'The test is yet to come' for how Kiwis treat Muslims - expert

New Zealand's relationship with the Muslim community will be tested over the coming years, says an expert in immigration and social integration.

Massey University's Dr Paul Spoonley told Magic Talk that while the immediate reactions to the Christchurch terror attacks from the Government, community leaders and Muslim leadership have been excellent, suspicion towards Islam remains.

"I've spoken about the events in the last week and I must say some of the reactions that I have had online and to me directly have been, quite frankly, very disturbing.

"We're talking about a positive community-building reaction that we've seen, but certainly my inbox tells me that we've got a group who see Muslims in a very negative light."

Dr Spoonley urges those New Zealanders out there who are still uncomfortable with a religion tainted by its association in Kiwis' minds with terrorism and conservative practices to focus on the history their local communities have had in the country.

"Let's be governed by what happens in New Zealand, not by what happens internationally.

"My experience with the Muslim community… they've never wanted to argue for practices in New Zealand that would be against New Zealand values."

Dr Spoonley also said minority groups generally have a small voice in New Zealand, and so good news about them isn't always covered by mainstream media.

"Part of the problem is, if an imam or a Muslim leader speaks out about [Islamic State], who reports that?

"Perhaps those communities have condemned some of those international acts of violence that come from a very small extreme of the Muslim community, but we haven't heard about it because our media has never reported it. So I think we need to be fair to the Muslim community."

While the outpouring of shared grief, support and money by New Zealanders towards the victims has been incredible to witness, Dr Spoonley says the next stage of the relationship between communities will be crucial.

"In six months or year, or in three years or five years, will we be doing the same things?

"The test is yet to come but in the first instance New Zealanders have responded magnificently in a very difficult situation."