On the occasion of the 72nd Anniversary of Indian Independence, I want to acknowledge the Indian community of my electorate Mount Roskill and the huge contribution that the community makes socially, economically, and culturally.
The Indian community is the second largest ethnic community in New Zealand, recorded at 174,000 at the 2014 census and considerably larger now.
Editor’s Note: Population figures for people of Indian origin vary between sources because of differences in inclusion and non-inclusion of students, migrant workers and people who identify themselves as from countries in which they were born and raised.
People who hail from India have been in New Zealand since the earliest days of European exploration and settlement. The first Indian contact with New Zealand is recorded as a crew member on Captain Cook’s first voyage 1769 with the first Indian migration following around 1809/10 according to historian Prof Sekhar Bandyopadhyay.
The demographic mix
For much of the Twentieth Century, the largest contingent of Kiwi Indians were born in Gujarat or were descendants from those born there while the next largest group had origins in Punjab. In 1981, 46% Kiwi Indians were New Zealand born. This dropped dramatically to 29% by 2001 with significant migration from the late 90s while the Fiji-Indian community grew strongly in response to political tensions in Fiji.
In Mount Roskill, the Indian community has a long and proud history. With close proximity to the City, good schools, and strong community networks, Mount Roskill has become one of the hubs of the community in New Zealand.
Many Indian food outlets dot not just the main street of Mount Roskill but also neighbouring Dominion Road, Sandringham, Richardson Road and Balmoral area.
Many schools in the area have a significant numbers of students of Indian origin especially the Mount Roskill Primary, Intermediate and Grammar schools as well as the various primary schools in the area. Notably, many student leaders are emerging from within the Indian community including my Youth MP, Saakshi Hegde.
The local Puketapapa library often holds Diwali, Holi and other Indian celebrations and frequent book displays on India, recognising and celebrating the diversity of its clientele. Annually a successful Holi in the Park is celebrated at Three Kings Reserve.
I am very proud that our Puketapapa Local Board has two elected members of the Indian community, including the youngest elected Indian local government member in New Zealand, Shail Kaushal.
Mount Roskill continues to be a hub for many Indian businesses from restaurants and cafes to education services, manufacturing, clothing and jewellery, accounting and business services, and many more.
Famous Indian Cuisine
In particular, Mount Roskill has become one of the best places to experience great Indian cuisine – almost every suburb has its own Indian food outlet and to most Kiwis now ordering a naan bread with a tikka, dhal, or korma is as familiar as ordering Friday night fish and chips.
As I think about the future of Mount Roskill, my home as well as my constituency, I am filled with optimism. The growing diversity of our community is one of its great strengths and I firmly believe that the energy, creativity, and hard work of our local Indian community will make this a better place for everyone in the years to come.
To those members of the Mount Roskill Indian community who paved the way, I thank you.
To those young people who are now making their own path, I have every confidence that you will succeed.
Michael Wood is elected Member of Parliament from Mount Roskill and Chief Whip of the Government.
- Michael Wood with his wife Julie Fairey and their children in Mount Roskill
- Michael Wood with fellow MPs Deborah Russell and Priyanca Radhakrishnan with a Muslim family at the recently held Eid Al Adha celebrations