Lone Indian in Queen’s New Year Honours List

Venkat Raman – 

Nirvana Health Group Director and Gandhi Nivas Founder-President Ranjna Patel was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM), one of the highest civilian honours bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II on the recommendation of the New Zealand government.

The Queen’s New Year Honours List was announced on December 30,2016.

Ms Patel is the second woman of Indian origin to be appointed as ONZM. She was the sole recipient of Indian origin on the Honours List this year.

Dr Pushpa Wood, Director, Westpac Massey Financial Education and Research Centre and Chair of the New Zealand Chapter of the World Council of Religion and Peace was the first to be accorded this honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June, 2016 (Indian Newslink, June 15, 2016).

Dr Chellaraj Benjamin, Clinical Director, MercyAscot and Professor of Oncology at the Auckland Hospital was the first Indian to be appointed ONZM in the Queen’s New Year Honours List in 2008 (Indian Newslink, January 15, 2008).

Other Awards

Earlier this month, Ms Patel was honoured by Deloitte Top 200 Award as a Visionary Leader, recognising her role as a businessperson, community leader and social worker.

She also won the ‘Master Category of the Ernst Young (EY) Entrepreneur of the Year’ Awards.

Gandhi Nivas

The recognition by the Queen on her New Year Honours List was undoubtedly for the leadership and diligence that she invested in establishing ‘Gandhi Nivas’ almost three years ago, following a ‘challenge’ by Counties Manukau Police District Commander Superintendent John Tims to the South Asian Advisory Board of which Ms Patel and some of us are members.

Domestic Violence

“We identified domestic violence as a serious problem and absence of prospering counselling services or help to anyone, especially men, who are wanting to change or get help, became apparent. We needed a home, social workers and/or counsellor and a 24-hour service (as most incidents happen at night). Always up for a challenge, we looked at the data more carefully, with the guidance of Inspector Rakesh Naidoo, Sergeant Gurpreet Arora (South Asian Liaison Officer at Counties Manukau Police), Inspector Sharon Price and my fellow-board members Venkat Raman and Ibrar Sheik,” Ms Patel said.

Gandhi Nivas, located at 40, Station Road has worked with more than 300 families so far.

What started as a home for Indian men, now has every people of every ethnicity visiting, as there is no other facility in New Zealand.

An evaluation was done in the first 12 months and the results were very encouraging.

Commissioner of Police Mike Bush has said that every Police District in New Zealand (there are 21 of them) should have at least one ‘Gandhi Nivas.’

Indian Newslink has been promoting Gandhi Nivas from its stage of conception and its Editor serves on the Board of Governance of Gandhi Nivas.

Success story

The Nirvana Health Group story began in 1977 when Mrs Patel and her husband Dr Kantilal Patel took over a solo GP clinic in Otara.

Today their brand of health provision is delivered through affiliated general practices, urgent care clinics, specialist centres, occupational health clinics and pharmacies. Nirvana Health Group has more than 55 sites across New Zealand and Australia, and serves over a million customers a year.

Outside of business hours, she is a strong advocate of helping her community. Mrs Patel and her husband funded and built the ‘Shree Swaminarayan Temple’ (of the International Swaminarayan Satsang Organisation), which was inaugurated on March 18, 2008 (Indian Newslink, April 1, 2008). The Temple attracts thousands of people including an increasing number of student-volunteers.


Photo Caption:

Ranjna Patel was a Summation Speaker at the Fifth Annual Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture held on July 27, 2015 at Pullman Hotel on the ‘Role of Women in Business.’

Picture by Narendra Bedekar for Indian Newslink.

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