Small and medium enterprises form the core of New Zealand’s economy and the manageable size of most companies are often cited as an advantage in weathering through commercial storms and market fluctuations.
The Indo-Fijian community is a proud and successful participant in the vast canvas of commercial and industrial entities and the success of these enterprises is not only acknowledged but also celebrated.
From a small, 14-hour-a-day dairy around the corner stocking the immediate needs of a family to New Zealand’s first Mitre 10 mega store stocking more than 70,000 products to meet the evolving requirements of thousands of customers, Indo-Fijians have made their mark, setting inimitable standards of hard work and determination.
It is hard to indicate the exact year of their arrival in New Zealand but suffice to say, their presence in this country dates back almost to the time of their arrival in Fiji.
Today Indo-Fijians are successful entrepreneurs, manufacturers, professionals including lawyers, chartered accountants, medical practitioners, marketing personnel, electrical contractors, plumbers, administrators, teachers and so on.
All of them began small and continue to serve small customers along with the big ones, in a style that is representative of their character.
Simplicity marks their personality, personal involvement their style and successful operation their passion, improving their standard of living and along with them of those around and with them.
Language, a spirit of belonging and a sense of purpose are the factors that bind the Indo-Fijians into a single hold and it is not uncommon for the members of the community to help each other in times of need.
If the 1987 coup instilled a sense of fear and uncertainty among the Indo-Fijians, its 2000 version did worse to intensify these sentiments. Thousands left their homeland and sought a place of permanence in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Many of them have established a reputation for hard work in their respective fields, bringing credit and honour not just to their immediate families but to their community and country as well.
Professionals have made their indelible mark on the social fabric but entrepreneurs would claim a little more-as wealth creators and contributors to economic growth, gross domestic product and therefore national progress and prosperity. Some of them arrived in New Zealand with business acumen, experience and capital.
None of the high net-worth individuals in the community has inherited wealth; instead they are the instruments of their own destinies. There are stories of bankers establishing multimillion dollar retail chains, bartenders turning successful restaurateurs, contractors becoming major property developers and much more.