During the past 50 years, Hanif has contributed a great deal to the social and economic development of New Zealand.
A renowned agricultural and plant scientist, Hanif arrived in 1967 at Lincoln College, now Lincoln University, on a Commonwealth Research Fellowship, completing his PhD in genetics with Distinction in 1971.
After a post-doctoral fellowship in the UK and during 13 years at the DSIR at Lincoln, Hanif’s science-based accomplishments include a virus-free seed potato, aphid-resistant fodder rape, and the thornless loganberry.
In the late 70s, he lobbied for the establishment of the now multi-billion-dollar halal meat trade with the Middle East, helping New Zealand forge strategic, diplomatic and economic contacts with the Muslim world.
Hanif also began advocating on behalf of the Canterbury Muslim community, co-founding the Muslim Association of New Zealand in 1979 and serving as its first secretary-general.
He was president of the organisation in 1983, and instrumental in the construction of the Masjid Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch, which opened in 1985.
Hanif then accepted a professorship at NWFP Agricultural University in Peshawar, spending the next two decades in his home country, including as Head of Crop Sciences for the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, and as a senior consultant for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). During this time, he encouraged the introduction of New Zealand-influenced scientific, agricultural, social and community innovations into poor farming communities.
In 2009, he returned to New Zealand to be awarded the Lincoln University International Alumni Medal.
Since 2011, Hanif and his wife, Razia, have lived in Palmerston North, where their six children attended Massey University. He continues his community involvement with a focus on overcoming and reconciling social differences between New Zealand communities with different backgrounds.
Following the 2019 March 15 terror attacks, as a highly respected senior community leader Hanif worked hard to maintain calm and unity, travelling extensively to meet with and speak to all and anyone impacted by the shootings.
His 2019 autobiography, Hybrid of Peace, is regarded as a source of comfort, healing and support in the wake of the tragedy.