Three friends of Indian Newslink have been featured on the Queen’s New Year Honours List. They are fellow journalist Fran O’Sullivan (Business Editor of the New Zealand Herald) who becomes an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM), Virinder Aggarwal, Founding Member of the Asian Network Inc and Bhikhu Bhana of the New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA), who will receive each a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) respectively for their services to the Asian and Indian communities.
Ruxmani Kasanji of Wellington is being admitted as Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for her services to the Indian community.
Ms Fran O’Sullivan is a leading journalist and commentator who has been instrumental in creating significant platforms to advance New Zealand’s key international trade and business relationships.
Ms O’Sullivan championed a business-led strategy to leverage New Zealand’s hosting of APEC in 1999 and was a founding Director of the New Zealand APEC CEO Summit board. She has participated in all New Zealand partnership forums with the United States, China and Australia. She was a founding director and Vice-President in the formation of the United States New Zealand Council and is Chair of the Advisory Board.
Ruxmani Kasanji became the first Headmistress of the Wellington Indian Association (WIA) Gujarati Language School for Children in 1969, managing a staff of nine voluntary teachers.
She taught Gujarati on a weekly basis between 1958 and 1973 with an annual roll of around 175 to 200 students aged five to 13 years. She played a key role in the establishment of the Indian Women’s Committee, known as Mahila Samaj, at the WIA. This Committee focused on women’s welfare and fundraising and she was Secretary from 1971 until 1988. She was made a Life Member of WIA in 1994, one of only two women in the WIA’s history to receive this recognition. She has been a member of the Indian Senior Citizens Group since 2015. She helped establish Yoga in Daily Life Society in Wellington in 1993 and served on the Board from 1996 to 2010. She was President in the mid-1990s and Vice President from 2012 to 2015.
Bhikhu Bhana has been involved with the New Zealand Indian Central Association for more than 40 years and has been President since 2016, having held other offices previously within the organisation.
Mr Bhana has been a member of the Pukekohe Indian Association for 25 years and has held the roles of Secretary and President. As President he played a key role in revitalising the organisation and helped instigate events with other Indian groups in the region. He has organised a Diwali Festival event at the Pukekohe Arts and Cultural Centre.
Mr Bhana was instrumental in the NZICA sponsorship of the Sports Segment of the Fifth Annual Indian Newslink Indian Sports & Community Awards 2018 held at Alexandra Park on October 8, 2018.
Virinder Aggarwal was a founding member of The Asian Network Inc in 2002, served on the Executive Committee, and has been Chairperson for six years.
The Asian Network provides a platform to assist Asian communities in Auckland by identifying and responding to the needs to these communities through information sharing, training opportunities, and submissions to central and local government. Under Mr Aggarwal’s leadership the Network co-hosted two International Asian Health Conferences in collaboration with the University of Auckland’s Centre for Asian Health Research and Evaluation and established an annual Asian Forum focusing on health and wellbeing. He has edited the Network’s monthly newsletter and been on the Editorial Advisory Board for the Migrant News bimonthly newspaper.