Prime Minister John Key has said that he would like to see more Indians in New Zealand.
“Indians are known for their hard work and positive contributions to the progress and prosperity of New Zealand. There are more than 100,000 Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) in our country and it would be great to have more Indians to add to our diverse culture,” he said, speaking at the inaugural ceremony of ‘Diwali 2012’ Festival held at the Aotea Square in Auckland on Saturday, October 13.
“Indians play an important role with their vibrant culture. They have brought great skills that have changed New Zealand to make it richer and better. I hope we could have more people from India to contribute to our progress,” he said.
Mr Key said that he would also like to see more Indians in the Black Caps team.
“I am sure that with more Indians, we would have a stronger cricket team and just as we won the Rugby World Cup last year, we can win the World Cup Cricket. I would also like to see more students from India in our universities and tertiary institutions,” he said.
Propitiously, a delegation of education providers led by Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce left for India on October 13 to explore possibilities of increasing the number of students from the world’s largest democracy.
Diwali 2012 was organised by Asia NZ Foundation, in association with the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and the Indian High Commission. ANZ Bank and Radio Tarana were among the main sponsors.
Asia NZ Foundation Chairman Philip Burdon said that the Indian community has grown to represent almost all the States of India and that Diwali has become one of the most important and significant events in New Zealand’s social calendar over the past 11 years.
“Diwali is a festival that teaches us tolerance, harmony, understanding and goodwill. It is today celebrated as a public event throughout the country,” he said.
Labour Party’s Phil Goff (representing Opposition Leader David Shearer), Councillor Alf Filipaina (for Auckland Mayor Len Brown), Member of Parliament David Cunliffe, Dr Rajen Prasad, Dr Jackie Blue and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, community and business leaders were present at the inaugural ceremony.
Among the highlights of the festival this year was the performance of artistes from the ‘Rangashree School of Fine Arts,’ based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat and the artistic creations of Rangoli expert Mugdha Brid.