Our People: Shefali Mehta
Community care and social service come naturally to Shefali Mehta, who is the lone person of Indian Sub-Continent origin to be featured on the New Year Honour List announced by the New Zealand government on behalf of Queen Elizabeth on December 30, 2015.
Ms Mehta will receive a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for her services to the Indian community in New Zealand.
This would be a second such honour bestowed on her by the Queen, the first of which she received from the Papua New Guinea government in 1994.
Arriving in New Zealand with her husband Shailen Mehta and their two sons Ravi (Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers) and Rajiv (Specialist Baker at Inspired Foods) in December 1997, Ms Mehta almost immediately began her long and eventful engagement with New Zealanders in general and the growing Indian community in particular.
Her passion for community service took her to the Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside 1998 and over the past 17 years she has been leading several fundraising projects, the foremost of which have been for ‘CanTeen’ (an organisation that helps young people suffering from Cancer), Starship Children Hospital, Leukaemia & Blood Foundation and the Southern Cross Campus School.
Ms Mehta has been a member on the Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside since 2008 and has held several official positions, the highest of which was as President during the Rotary Year 2012-2013.
She places great pride and seriousness on the Rotary Foundation.
“This Foundation is a major platform for charities, doing meaningful work through its programme for Health and Humanity to help young people to form their own values and moral standards to become better citizens of New Zealand. The Rotary Movement plays a significant role in community and social welfare at local, regional and district levels throughout the world,” she said.
Ms Mehta considers her involvement in ‘End Polio Now’ campaign, Rotary’s greatest programme aimed at eliminating poliomyelitis throughout the world with the help of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
During her tenure as President, Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside contributed $106,890 towards Starship Children Hospital and the Auckland Medical Research Foundation.
Her role in Rotary will be enhanced in July 2016, when she takes over the role as Assistant Governor looking after five Rotary Clubs in Auckland.
Ms Mehta has also been involved with the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOIPO) since its formation in New Zealand in 2008 and is its National Secretary. As a GOPIO Member, she is involved with the International Students Ambassador project with officials of the Auckland City District Police.
“I am also proud to support ‘Bharatiya Samaj,’ and as a member of its Core Committee, I have been involved with the ‘Aashirwad,’ a rest home for the people of South Asian Origin,” she said.
Among the other organisations that have had the benefit of her participation include the Auckland Indian Association (Member), Global Indianz (Deputy Chairman), Global Indianz Women’s Wing (Chairperson).
Since 2011, Ms Mehta has been a fundraising and even coordinator for the Mt Albert Electorate of National Party.
She became a Justice of the Peace in February 2011 and a Marriage Celebrant in March 2015.
“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.
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.
Her husband’s tours of duty overseas took her to Fiji, Kenya and Papua New Guinea before arriving in New Zealand.
Shefali Mehta with Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka (2011-2012) during his visit to New Zealand in 2010