Shubh Diwali and Happy New Year!
Diwali in Aotearoa is both a celebration of an ancient festival; and a celebration of our South Asian identity.
It is a reminder that New Zealand Indians are a precious part of our culture, enriching us all.
New Zealand’s Diwali festivals are becoming bigger and better attended every year.
I always attend as many as I can. My children love the food, the crowds and the party atmosphere.
Then of course, there are all the wonderful feasts and celebrations that happen with friends and extended families in homes all around the country.
For me, lighting the lamp that symbolises knowledge is very special.
I am a former teacher, from a family of teachers, and I love the metaphor of lighting the lamp of knowledge and reflecting on learning and wisdom.
It is also very meaningful to remember that people have been doing this and observing other Diwali traditions with their families for 5000 years.
It lends a special perspective.
I would like to thank the Indian community for their hard work and contribution to our economic, social and cultural life.
We celebrate alongside you today.
In the spirit of Diwali, my hope for the coming year is that it will be one of renewal.
I want to see New Zealand striding ahead internationally, while offering educational excellence, great jobs and a strong multicultural society where all New Zealanders are treated with respect.
I believe that Diwali 2013 represents new beginnings and a hope for the future.
I hope that you would enjoy exchanging gifts and sharing good food with your families.
David Shearer is an elected Member of Parliament representing Labour Party in Mt Albert (Auckland) constituency.