As we approach the end of this Term of Council, it is an appropriate time to look back at the successes and challenges of the past three years and what opportunities lie ahead, both for Auckland as a City and for our Indian communities.
Few would disagree that Auckland is an exceptional City and that it is an exciting time to be living here. The City is growing at an unprecedented rate: there are around 98 cranes on our horizon – more than any City in the United States – and $73 billion worth of commercial construction underway or in the pipeline.
Our population is increasing by up to 40,000 people each year and we are projected to receive 55% of New Zealand’s total growth over the next decade.
With this unprecedented growth comes challenges: traffic congestion, housing shortages and pressure on our environment.
Auckland Council is working to address these challenges and we are making record investments to ensure that as our Auckland grows, it remains a world-class City where opportunity is available to all our communities.
Amid Auckland’s unprecedented growth, the Indian community has continued to thrive. The number of Indian New Zealanders choosing to call Auckland home grew by 42% between the 2006 and 2013 census, and the Indian community now likely to account for more than 8% of Auckland’s population.
Members of Auckland’s Indian community are achieving growing success as business leaders, entrepreneurs, community workers, and sportspeople.
That success doesn’t occur in a vacuum.
Strong leaders are a result of strong communities and the Indian community supports and uplifts all its members to make the contribution they do.
Media outlets such as Indian Newslink, with its more than 65,000 readers, also provide a strong voice. The high calibre of entrants and winners at last year’s Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards is one example of the contribution our Indian communities make to our City, and I look forward to seeing similar success celebrated at this year’s Awards.
The increasingly important and visible role that Auckland’s Indian community plays in the life of the City is also exemplified by the growth of Diwali Festival.
A generation ago, Diwali was mainly marked at home by the Indian community. Today it is a public event celebrated not only by those of Indian descent but by Aucklanders of all backgrounds and faiths. Around 60,000 people now attend the Festival each year to enjoy dance, music and theatre performers, food and craft stalls, expos and more.
Likewise, the Indian Independence Day celebrations that this edition of Indian Newslink marks are another opportunity to promote diversity and inclusion across our City, and I wish everyone attending the events this year a happy, peaceful and enjoyable day.
Indian Independence Day is an opportunity to acknowledge those who led India to independence, foremost of whom was Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi: a man whose vision inspired and continues to inspire us with his commitment not only to independence but also peaceful activism, social justice and a world without conflict.
Following the tragic events in Christchurch on March 15, 2019, it is more important than ever that we reaffirm these values.
Everyone in our City and country has the right to follow the faith of their choosing freely and safely. As Mayor, I am proud of my commitment to a multifaith and multicultural Auckland, where people from all backgrounds are treated with mutual respect and can enjoy the rich diversity of our cultures.
Phil Goff is Mayor of Auckland. He writes regularly in Indian Newslink. Local Government elections including for the office of Mayor, Counsellors and other important bodies are held throughout New Zealand every three years. The Election this year will be held from September 20 to October 12, 2019. Please visit https://www.vote.nz/enrol-to-vote/enrol-check-or-update/
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Phil Goff presenting an ‘Excellence in Services to Communities Award’ to the officials of the South East Auckland Senior Citizens Association Inc at the Sixth Annual Indian Newslink Sports, Community, Arts & Culture Awards on June 24, 2019 in Auckland (Pictures by Narendra Bedekar, Creative Eye Fotographics)