Leaders emphasise importance of Inclusion citing INL Awards

Venkat Raman

Ethnic communities contribute substantially to various sectors of the New Zealand economy and it is necessary to acknowledge them, a Minister of the Crown has said.

Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa said that the South Asian and South East Asian communities in general and the Indian community in particular have been great achievers in various sporting activities.

“They have also been involved in community service, elderly care and have distinguished themselves as volunteers and social workers. Tonight, we are pleased to recognise and honour them,” she said.

Solidarity demonstrated

Ms Salesa was speaking at the Sixth Annual Indian Newslink Sports, Community, Arts & Culture Awards held at Ellerslie Events Centre in Auckland on Monday, June 24, 2019.

Referring to the Christchurch massacre on March 15, 2019 in which 51 persons were killed and 49 others were injured (some of them seriously), she said that the tragedy brought together New Zealanders as one Nation.

“The New Zealand government, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern showed compassion and said that every New Zealander belongs to us. The people responded with solidarity and unity and we have said that we will not tolerate any hatred, hate speeches and actions that inflame sentiments and fuel violence. We are committed to protecting and promoting ethnic diversity and the oneness of all New Zealanders,” she said.

National MP Mark Mitchell, who represented his Party and Opposition Leader (Simon Bridges) said that he was proud of how responded as a Nation rejecting outright the racist hate designed to create conflict and divide communities.

Racist comments all the time

“It reminded us all how strong we are when we come together and stand united. But there is more to do. On Saturday, February 16, hundreds of Kiwis and Kiwi-Indians came together in Aotea square for a candle lit vigil to honour the brave Indian troops who were killed in Pulwama, Kashmir. At that time, two drunk males across the road started hurling deeply offensive racial abuse at our gathering. For one of the few times in my life I was completely polarised and in complete disbelief. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing. As I gathered myself and started to walk towards them with the intent of holding them until the Police arrived, a young Indian boy, maybe 13 or 14, grabbed my arm and stopped me. When I turned to look at him he said, “Please Sir, just ignore them, we get that all the time.”

Mr Mitchell said that he was naïve to believe this behaviour had been diluted over time and or purged from New Zealand but realised that was not the case.

“We have faced tragedy as a Nation this year with the awful slaying of Kiwis in their place of worship. But here’s the thing. If we are going to be a Nation that rejects the hate and racism directed at us in Christchurch then we have to be a Nation that is prepared to act on all forms of hate and racism.

“We are a great Nation that we are all proud to call home. But we all have a leadership role in continuing to evolve as a country where no 14-year-old with aspiration and hope burning deep in their eyes has learnt to accept and absorb racial taunts and abuse.

Sporting Excellence

Mr Mitchell said that India has a very long history of sporting excellence and a deep tradition of Arts and Culture. We are very lucky that New Zealand has been made richer and stronger with the gifts of Indian Art, Culture and the many sporting achievements.

“We just watched the Indian Women’s Rugby team create history by winning its first international against Singapore and finishing 3rd in the Asian Championship division. We have come a long way but we have further to go,” he said.

Honour in 50 categories

Welcoming the gathering, National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi said that the Awards Night was organised to honour people in 50 categories, embracing not just the Indian community but also from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Fiji, South Africa, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

Twentieth Anniversary of Indian Newslink

Mr Bakshi said Indian Newslink launches its 20th Anniversary at the Awards Night.

“This is an occasion to celebrate the services of our people; services that have made a difference to us- as a country, as a society, as a community and most important of all, as ordinary people in their ordinary course of our lives. We also pay tribute to the Muslim community for their patience and tolerance, to the New Zealand Police for their exemplary services,” he said.

“We pay homage to our dear friends who are with us in spirit- Raman Ray Ranchhod, Wenceslaus Anthony and Dr Robert Khan Senior, in whose memory we present a few awards tonight,” Mr Bakshi said.

The Dignitaries

Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Indian High Commission (Wellington) Charge d’ Affaires C Doss Jeyakumar, Members of Parliament Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Mark Mitchell, Michael Wood, Agnes Loheni, Jacqui Dean, Andrew Bayly, Dr Parmjeet Parmar, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Deborah Russell, Jami-Lee Ross, former MPs Dr Ashraf Chaudhary, Chris Carter National Party President Peter Goodfellow, Auckland Councillor Desley Simpson, Deputy Commissioners of Police Wallace Haumaha and Andy Coster, Inspector Rakesh Naidoo, Leaders of the Football community, Sponsors, community leaders are among the many others who will be present at the event, which was attended by about 700 men and women.

Muslim Community, Police honoured

The Muslim Community was honoured with a Special Award for promoting tolerance, patience and goodwill in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, received by the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand President Dr Mustafa Farouk, Secretary Ibrar Sheikh and Government Relations Executive Dr Anwar Ghani.

Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police (Strategy & Partnerships) Andy Coster received an Award on behalf of Police Commissioner Mike Bush for Excellence in Crisis Management and Safer Communities.

Similar, individual awards were presented to Deputy Commissioner of Police Wallace Haumaha and Inspector Rakesh Naidoo.

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