The charm of Telugu culture expressed in dance form by artistes from New Zealand Telugu Association
The Auckland Indian Association and its iconic Mahatma Gandhi Centre were applauded for their pre-eminence in the community, the former as it marks its 100th Anniversary and the latter for its reputation as the most-preferred rendezvous for the resident population.
A colourful cultural programme, demonstrating the diversity and versatility of the India was a highlight of the ‘India Day’ celebrations held at the Centre on Saturday, February 13, 2020. The open-to-all, free event was attended by more than 500 men, women and children, bringing together the cultural plurality of New Zealand and exemplifying the singular honour of Auckland Indian Association (AIA) as the premier grouping of the Indian Diaspora.
Among the Guests of Honour were India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Muktesh Pardeshi, Former Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, Transport and Workplace Relations & Safety Minister Michael Wood, Hon Consul of India in Auckland Bhav Dhillon, Former President AIA and Trustees of AIA Ray Ganda and New Zealand India Central Association President Paul Patel.
Diversity and Versatility
The cultural programme included performers representing Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
The programme, which included dance and music, showcased the traditional and folklore rhapsody as well the comparatively modern music culled from Indian films. It was pleasing to see local talent shine on stage, thanks to the interest evinced by the artistes as well as the training imparted by their teachers and the support of parents, elders and members of the community. The performers, young and old, made the event memorable.
Mr Pardeshi said that Year 2020 is significant not only for the AIA but also for the diplomatic relations between India and New Zealand, which mark 70 years.
“Additionally, our dream of moving to a modern and spacious High Commission building which is being built at a cost of approximately NZ$ 85 million will be realised later this year. We intend to make our new premises a hub of business, cultural and community activities in the heart of Wellington,” he said.
Mr Pardeshi said that AIA was established at a time when the number of Indians in this country was merely 671 as per available information.
“A hundred years ago, New Zealand was a different place. It had 1.24 million people; The Labour Party, the oldest extant Party was only four years old; and first Radio Stations had not gone on air. The Indian community was small, hardly conversant in English, faced a number of insurmountable challenges including restrictions on employment, family immigration, discrimination and host of other issues,” he said.
Bharata Natyam performance by the students of Anuradha School of Dance highlighted the culture of Tamil Nadu
The growing Diaspora
Sir Anand said that people of Indian origin are now represented in many areas of New Zealand life from Parliament and the Judiciary to Business and Education.
“The Auckland Indian Association, which supports the efforts of the community, has had to be resilient over the years and prepared to move with the times.
“And so it has. Out of one Indian Association a number of groups have emerged representing other facets of the Diaspora,” he said.
Sir Anand said that in 1920, New Zealand was the subject of an Immigration Restriction Act and the capacity to come and be part of the New Zealand way of life was something hard fought. The number of Indian people was very limited and the prevailing attitude towards them by many in the general community more than somewhat negative.
A dance number by Ella Kumar and Stephanie Stone of the Mt Roskill Diverse Community Dance Group
“The Auckland Indian Association is the primary organisation for the Indian community and the government acknowledges its contributions and services to the society. We look forward to its continued success,” he said.
The Krishna Dance by the children of Gandhi Gruh Gujrati Krishna Dance
“I am honoured to say that this organisation is not only named after this greatest personality, but it also operates on his principles, respect, integrity, honesty, and transparency. We have gathered to celebrate 100 years of commitment, really hard work, and dedication of our members and volunteers. We remember those who are not with us and made a significant contribution towards these magnificent facilities,” he said.
Pictures supplied by Auckland Indian Association