Indian apex body honours community veterans

Venkat Raman

Auckland, April 25, 2018

Two veterans of the Indian community were honoured with Life Membership of the New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA) at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association held on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the Hamilton Boys High School, Hamilton.

Harshad Patel, a Past-President of NZICA and Auckland Indian Association and Manjit Singh, a Past Treasurer of NZICA and a Past Vice-President of Pukekohe Indian Association received the highest recognition accorded by the Association either to its members or other highly distinguished New Zealander.

The late Sir Edmund Hillary was among them.

Following the Democratic process, Mr Patel and Mr Singh were elected by the AGM to receive this honour.

The Annual General Meeting, 92nd in an annual series, was hosted by the Waikato Indian Association and accounted for more than 120 men and women, including people from other communities.

Distinguished Gathering

Among them were Office of Ethnic Communities Senior Advisor Mary Wilson, who was the Chief Guest, Hamilton East National MP David Bennett, Labour List MP Jamie Strange, Waikato University Teaching Fellow and Research Associate Todd Nachowitz, and ANZ Bank Head of Migrant & Auckland Asian Banking Jack Hou, who were Guests of Honour.

Mr Nachowitz, who speaks fluent Hindi, plays the Tabla and has an in-depth knowledge of Indian festivals and religious rituals, was the Keynote Speaker.

The Waikato Ladies Group performed a traditional Welcome Dance.

Service Awards

Ms Wilson presented the ‘NZICA Community Service Award’ to Pritam Kaur of Pukekohe Indian Association, Jayanti Sima of Bay of Plenty (Rotorua) Indian Association and Manisha Morar of Wellington Indian Association.

Mr Bennett and Mr Strange presented Merit Certificates for attending more than 15 Annual Conferences of NZICA to Bhikhu Bhana (Pukekohe Indian Association), Krishnalal Pragji (Bay of Plenty-Rotorua Indian Association), Chandu Daji and Kanti Bhikha (Auckland Indian Association).

Earlier, following the official inaugural by Ms Wilson, Dr Nachowitz spoke about the migration of Indians into New Zealand, which was a subject of his research.

“Whilst the common perception is that Indians arrived in New Zealand from the 1880s, my thesis shows that Indian sailors came to our shores in the 1600s,” he said and outlined some other aspects of his study.

Among the other speakers at the Conference were NZICA President Bhikhu Bhana, General Secretary Prakash Biradar, Waikato Indian Association President Tatum Pragji and Wellington Indian Association President Paul Patel. Treasurer Hansa Naran received guests affixing the traditional ‘tilak’ on their foreheads.

Associations inducted

Despite its long service to the Indian community and despite being the first and only national body of Indians, the NZICA has thus far not been able to attract all Indian associations, especially those catering to people from various Indian States. The Constitution of NZICA and its inability to breakthrough its barriers have kept many away.

However, two organisations, namely the Telangana Association of New Zealand and the Auckland Tamil Association were inducted as ‘Probationary Associate Members of the NZICA.’ Although stated to be the first step towards a full membership, such distinctions keep regional associations away from NZICA.

The NZICA veterans should revisit their Constitution and accord full members to Associations that are registered at least for three years.

As if he has read our thoughts, Mr Biradar wrote in his Report, “The Wider Representation Committee of NZICA is working on a new strategy to include more Indian Groups.”

Office-Bearers 2018-2019

The AGM elected the following to the main posts:

Bhikhu Bhana from Pukekohe (President), Paul Patel from Wellington (Vice President), Prakash Biradar from Auckland (General Secretary), Manisha Morar from Wellington (Assistant Secretary) Hansa Naran from Manukau Indian Association, now known as Indian Association of New Zealand (Treasurer).

The following were elected as Chairpersons of various subcommittees: Ratilal Champaneri (Immigration and International Students Welfare Committee), Harshad Patel (Indian High Commission Liaison Committee), Puspa Lekinwala (Health, Welfare and Senior Citizens Committee), Paramjeet Dhatt (Law & Order, Crime Prevention Committee), Ashok Darji (Constitution Committee), Primla Khar (Women’s Committee), Dr Lingappa Kalburgi (Wider Representation Committee), Madanjeet Bange (Awards, Honours and Life Membership Committee), Jay Randhawa (Business Committee) and Manjit Singh (Funding and Budgeting Committee).

In a press note, Mr Biradar said that people of Indian origin facing problems could contact the relevant chairpersons for assistance.

“They could also write to me (Email: secretary)” he said.

About NZICA

The New Zealand Indian Central Association was established in 1926 by three Indian Associations, namely, Auckland, Wellington and Country Section to advance the cause of all Indians, to promote education, health, welfare and cultural identity.

Today, it is the Central body of Indians in New Zealand, with 18 associations.

NZICA has been instrumental in representing its members in various areas.

Among them are: Immigration: Suppression of White League, removal of Discrimination, Special Rights for visa applications where members experience problems in obtaining visas to enter New Zealand. Race Relations: Health and Welfare – representations made for Portability of retirement pension initially for 26 weeks and then for 100%. Law and Order: Impact on our small and medium businesses. Liaison with the Indian High Commission: On matters of interest and concern and establishing the Office of Hon Consul Office in Auckland

“The NZICA team is determined to develop a new strategic plan to strengthen its branches and affiliate associations to empower the sizeable population of Kiwis of Indian origin,” Mr Biradar said.

Tasks at hand

Mr Biradar said that as the voice of Indian Community in New Zealand, NZICA is keen to engage more intensely with the New Zealand Government to resolve issues such as Security, Law and Order and International Students.

“Our activities included a special workshop in Auckland for Indian students to assist them in Safety & Welfare issues; Continue with the development of our youth Programmes and Projects; Provide more representation of women at all levels from local to national executive level; Modernise intra-community information network and strengthen the links between minor Indian ethnic groups; Continue the good relations with the Indian High Commission to investigate the general problems faced by Kiwi Indians; and Provide image-building measures for New Zealand in India and vice versa,” he said.

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Photo Caption:

  1. Bhikhu Bhana places the NZICA Life Membership on Harshad Patel
  2. Manjit Singh receives his Life Membership Award from Bhikhu Bhana
  3. Office-bearers for 2018-2019 (from left) Hansa Naran, Paul Patel, Bhikhu Bhana, Prakash Biradar and Monisha Morar.

(Pictures supplied)

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