It was inspiring to be a part of a small gathering of family members, friends and community leaders on April 26, 2016 to congratulate Shefali Mehta who was honoured by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae earlier that day at the Government House in Auckland.
Ms Mehta received the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for her services to the Indian community.
Auckland City District Police Asian Liaison Officer Jessica Phuang recalled the contributions of Ms Mehta, along with others, to the ‘Uncle & Aunty Group’ initiated by the Police to support international students.
“Ms Mehta was the first person to register and make the Project tick. This programme aims to provide proper advice to foreign students and make them feel at home. She is a source of endearment to all of us,” Ms Phuang said.
Former National Party Mt Albert Electorate Chair Peter Turner paid tributes to Ms Mehta’s dedication to serve New Zealand communities and organise fundraising programmes.
Rotary District (9920 & 9940) Past Governor Ron Seeto recalled her services to the Rotary Movement, especially during her term as Harbourside Rotary Club President during Rotary Year 2012-2013.
He said that Ms Mehta took up the challenge of the then Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka to organise a community project to promote peace.
“Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside was the first club in the District to organise a Peace and Conflict Resolution Forum in September 2012 under her leadership. In addition, the Club has been involved in a number of other community welfare activities,” he said.
Rotary Club of Harbourside raised $80,000 through a number of events including Diwali and Chinese New Year for such charitable organisations as Starship, Auckland Medical Research Foundation, Kidney for Kids and Foundation for the Education of Needy Children Fiji Trust.
Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust Chairman Jeet Suchdev described her as ‘a humble volunteer of Aashirwad Ward, a ‘culturally appropriate home’ for elders of Asian origin within the David Lange Care in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere.
Glacier Investments Managing Director Donald Sew Hoy highlighted the achievements of Ms Mehta’s fundraising and event management skills.
“Shefali has always promoted family values and her love for children and grandchildren has always been a source for endearment,” he said.
“Community Service helps in creating new friendships, teaches how the community works so that I can help the needy and less fortunate people. Despite my internationality, I am a proud Indian. I believe that we should be able to retain traditional values and work for the benefit of all peoples,” Ms Mehta said.
“I am humbled by the honour,” she added.
She appreciates the importance of the volunteer service and thanks her supporters for nominating her for the honour.
Attributing the Medal to her husband Shailen (Procurement Head, The Reddy Group of Companies) and their two sons Ravi (Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand), Rajiv (Specialist Baker, Inspired Foods Limited), she said that their support has been central to her success in community service.
Granddaughter of laureate Balwantrai Kalyanrao Thakore, Ms Mehta has a graduate degree (Bachelor) in Arts (Psychology major) and has been involved with the Red Cross and other community services.
Wenceslaus Anthony is Chairman, Mother Teresa Interfaith Committee based in Auckland.
- Sir Jerry Mateparae with Shefali Mehta at the Investiture Ceremony on April 26
- Shefali and Shailen with their sons Rajiv (left) and Ravi Mehta at Government House, Auckland on April 26