Indians weather storms of discard, foster prosperity

Behold a Pictorial Expo at Mahatma Gandhi Centre, Auckland Indian Association, 145, New North Road, Eden Terrace, Saturday, July 1, 2017 from 10 am to 4 pm; At Papakura Museum, 209 Great South Road, Papakura from August 7 to September 22, 2017.

Venkat Raman 

The Indian community in New Zealand has acquired a special status in the political, commercial, industrial, social and community spectrum of New Zealand, with almost everyone paying tribute to a society of people for their patience and perseverance.

Year 2017 marks the 125th Anniversary of the arrival of the first settlers, although informal references to the early arrivals date back to 1880s.

Year 2017 also marks the 90th Anniversary of the New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA), indubitably a remarkable milestone in the history of a nation.

It is hard to perceive if there is any parallel to NZICA and its seniority anywhere in the world; for, while Indian presence began in many parts of the world almost 140 years ago as indentured labourers, there is no evidence of a formal grouping or association. On that score, Indians in New Zealand could be justly proud of their grouping.

Some inevitable questions

How and why did Indians arrive in New Zealand? Did the first arrival occur by accident or was it planned? What was their experience on the first day of arrival? Were they treated with respect or contempt? If they were not welcomed, why did they decide to stay back, especially since they were not bonded labour? What kept them going? And finally, which is the era that can be identified to say that ‘they have arrived?’

There may be no written answers to these questions but a pictorial exhibition could speak a million or more words of the life, career, business, social disposition and trials and tribulations of Indians in New Zealand.

Commemorative Exhibition

The Exhibition, put together by NZICA, will be open from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, July 1, 2017 at Mahatma Gandhi Centre located at 145, New North Road, Eden Terrace in Central Auckland. Later, it will be held at Papakura Museum, 209 Great South Road, Papakura from August 7 to September 22, 2017. The Exhibition commemorates the 125th Anniversary of the arrival of Indians in this country.

NZICA officials have been working since last year to organise this event.

Bhikhu Bhana

Following is a statement from NZICA President Bhikhu Bhana:

The Exhibition, comprising photographs and commentary, will tour all over New Zealand.

The settlement of Indians in New Zealand for over a century marks a very significant worldwide commemoration. Outside of Asia, the settlement of Indians in New Zealand is one of the oldest in the world and the Indian Diaspora can be proud of this remarkable achievement.

As a third Generation New Zealander Indian, I am immensely proud of the achievement of the Indian community – a community that started with settlers from Punjab and Gujarat, now encapsulates Indians from all states of the subcontinent. They have established themselves in many professions, businesses, sporting and artistic qualities.

The structure of NZICA and cooperation of all Indians in New Zealand presents an opportunity to be a role model in the world for Indians living abroad.

This exhibition, due for launch on July 1, 2017 with a formal opening and Jubilee dinner, marks the start of a national roadshow and a stepping stone for exciting future profile enhancement of Indians in New Zealand.

Prakash Biradar

Following is the Statement sent at our request by Prakash Biradar, General Secretary.

The New Zealand Indian Central Association was established in 1926 with existing three branches of Indian Associations as an apex body to engage with the Government for the betterment of the Indian Community. Since then, NZICA has worked relentlessly, taking up the issues with the Government and resolved them to create a good living for Indians in New Zealand.

In a thickly populated Gujarati and Punjabi community at the Indian Associations, I am proud to say that I am the first Kannadiga, a South Indian to become General Secretary of the apex body in 2013 through Auckland Indian Association which was a main branch of NZICA.

I salute pioneer Indians who established this organisation. I am fortunate to be in office as NZICA celebrates its 90th anniversary.

NZICA is organising a Black-Tie Jubilee Dinner, with three course meal, complimentary drink and Cash Bar at Mahatma Gandhi Centre on July 1, 2017. The event will have a special guest appearance by celebrated theatre personality Jacob Rajan.

Entry by tickets, priced at $50 per person should be purchased in advance since there would no door sales. For further information, please email Prakash Biradar at secretary@nzindians.org.nz or Hansa Naran at nhuns@hotmail.com

Additional Reading: Our Editorial, ‘Amidst prejudice and disrespect, a community rises,’ under Viewlink.

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