The voice gets louder across New Zealand

This Special Anniversary issue of Indian Newslink will be a highlight of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards (IBA) Night November 15, 2010.

This newspaper has become such a strong feature of New Zealand’s multi-cultural society that it is difficult to believe that the newspaper, which began as a monthly, is still only 11 years old, and that it has been a fortnightly for more than seven years.

The role of Indian Newslink is becoming increasingly valuable in terms of New Zealand’s developing but still fragile multi-cultural society.

The past few weeks have shown how important it is to defend and protect our multi-cultural heritage, and the need for tolerance, harmony and mutual respect.

Muted response

Most of the issues surrounding former TVNZ Presenter Paul Henry’s offensive comments about Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit have now been well canvassed, including TVNZ’s original statement, which exacerbated Mr Henry’s racist comments.

My concern is not so much Mr Henry’s inexcusable behaviour and bigotry but the failure of Prime Minister John Key to respond adequately on behalf of New Zealanders.

It is a easy enough to celebrate New Zealand’s multi-cultural heritage in a general way when talking on the international stage, but it is essential to stand up on behalf of the values of mutual respect when they are challenged on the domestic stage.

Mr Key let New Zealanders down with his initial failure on live television to counter Mr Henry’s remarks about our highly-respected Governor-General, and he let us all down subsequently by his refusal to recognise publicly that what Henry was saying was racist.

Celebrate diversity

New Zealand needs political leadership that recognises that multiculturalism has become an ingrained part of our nation and people.

There are close to 100 different languages spoken in my electorate of Mt Roskill in Auckland. You can pass a dozen people in the street, and each one will be of a different ethnicity.

Part of the joy of being a New Zealander is to have a community where diversity can be celebrated for the richness it creates rather than something that is divisive.

That brings me back to Indian Newslink, its Special Anniversary Issue and IBA.

These highlight the contribution Indian business makes to New Zealand each year in terms of the wealth and jobs creation.

It is a genuine irony that a state broadcaster can allow an individual to tarnish the way New Zealanders are, while an ethnic-based newspaper celebrates the contributions different cultures make to this country.

The most important thing I have to say on the Anniversary is to urge the management and staff of Indian Newslink and members of the Indian community all over New Zealand to continue to enrich our country in the way you have been doing.

This encourages readers to take part actively in what is happening around them; to take a lively interest in the current events of the community in which they live and work; and to increase their political awareness and knowledge to challenge those who are in governance roles.

Indian Newslink has become a strong voice for the Indian community, but in doing so, it has become a significant mouthpiece for our multi-cultural society.

Every one of us, regardless of where we or our parents were born, are equally New Zealanders and must not be discriminated against.

Thanks Indian Newslink for all your contributions in making New Zealand a better place for us all to live and work.

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