Praneeta Kochhar Mahajan
Hamilton, May 12, 2022
On behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, Governor-General of New Zealand Dame Cindy Kiro paid tributes to New Zealanders who were appointed to the various cadres of the New Zealand Order of Merit and to those who have been awarded the Queen’s Services Order (QSO) and the Queen’s Services Medal (QSM).
Investiture Ceremonies were held in Wellington over the past few days and similar events are due to be held in Auckland and Christchurch.
At the Investiture Ceremony held at the Government House in Wellington on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, eleven recipients were recognised for outstanding service in their communities in the final investiture ceremony of this round at Government House Wellington.
Indian Newslink Editor Venkat Raman, appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) received a decorated Medal and Warrant “for his work on behalf of the New Zealand Indian community, which includes as founder of Gandhi Nivas and the Saint Mother Teresa Interfaith committee. Richard Benge also received an MNZM for his work with Arts Access Aotearoa, an organisation that increases participation in the arts for those who would otherwise experience barriers in doing so,” a Government House statement said.
The citation for Venkat read:
“Venkat Raman has dedicated more than 20 years as Editor of Indian Newslink to disseminate current affairs and news to the Indian community and wider migrant communities. Mr Raman has been employed with Indian Newslink since its establishment in 1999 and has since used the platform to maintain a link to the home country culture of hundreds of thousands of Indian-Kiwis. He instituted and promoted the Indian Business Awards, which plays a key role in motivating Indian diaspora to excel in business, improve governance and create employment. He is a founder and member of the governance body of Gandhi Nivas, an organisation which provides refuge and counselling programmes to rehabilitate male perpetrators of family violence. He is an advisor for several ethnic communities including Aotearoa New Zealand Federation of Tamil Sangams and Mana Andhra Telugu Association, and actively promotes communities amongst the Indian diaspora. He has been appointed to several Police boards including the Ethnic Advisory Board of the Police Commissioner, the Asian Advisory Board of Auckland City District Police and the South Asian Advisory Board of the Counties Manukau District, all since their inception. He has developed relationships with senior political leaders across the spectrum and ensures Indian community concerns are communicated. Mr Raman is also a founder of Saint Mother Teresa Interfaith committee.”
Intellectual Properties and Brands
Whether it is the Indian Newslink Business Awards, where businesses and professionals are given a platform to shine, the INL Lecture Series where a dialogue is always encouraged between the policy makers and community at large, or the Sports, Community, Arts and Culture Awards which bring the upcoming stars in the respective fields to the limelight or Festivals of South India which is a much loved community event, Venkat has helped create these unique events for Indian Newslink, which always see great presence and participation of (the then Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand), the Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, diplomats and business and community leaders.
Interviews of World Leaders
During a highly decorated career which spans more than 53 years, Venkat has interviewed several Presidents, Prime Ministers, Heads of State, world leaders, movie stars, sports celebrities and others. He has also accompanied Heads of State and Prime Ministers on their overseas visits, especially to India, the Sub-Continent, ASEAN countries, Europe, the USA and the Middle East. He was the Patron of the New Zealand Police Recruitment Wing 328 from April 2019 to August 2019 in Wellington.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern congratulated Venkat, saying that New Zealand has always been a country where people have selflessly served their community and country.
“The Honour that you have received is well-deserved recognition of your own outstanding contribution. You can feel proud to be one of the people who have been recognised in this special way – it is an acknowledgement of your contribution and of those who have supported you and your work,” she said.
Transport, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood recalled his 11 years of association with Venkat and said that “he has the glue that holds the community together.”
He said that Venkat supports numerous groups within the community, mentors up-coming leaders, is a patron of a Wing of New Zealand Police, and on countless occasions, he has supported and steered the community through challenges and tribulations.’
“I consider him to be a principled journalist, a keen observer of events, one of the most respected leaders within the New Zealand Indian community, and a very good friend. As a person, he is generous, kind, enquiring, and always has a wise word or two, drawing on his many years of experience. He is a man of mana, I am proud to call him a good friend, and in his contributions to the common good of New Zealand, is a worthy recipient of this Honour,” Mr Wood said.
Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Community and Voluntary Sector and Youth Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan shared a heart-warming message in which she said, “My sincere congratulations to Venkat on his well-deserved honour that recognises years of service dedicated to lifting the wellbeing of South Asian communities across Aotearoa. In addition to this and his contributions to ethnic media, I know that Venkat has often been the first port of call for those who are in trouble. He has supported many through troubled times quietly and without fanfare. I thank him for his service and wish him well,” she said.
National Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition Christopher Luxon congratulated Venkat on receiving the New Zealand Order of Merit.
“This is a terrific recognition of all your hard work over 20 years as Editor of Indian Newslink and the great work you have done within and on behalf of the wider Indian community in New Zealand. This honour also recognises the very important role you have played in connecting and engaging our different communities within New Zealand. In doing so, you have helped make New Zealand a much richer and more diverse place – thank you. I hope this recognition also continues to inspire you to keep applying your keen intellect, boundless enthusiasm and great passion to advancing New Zealand further. Do allow yourself some proper time to reflect on all you have achieved and contributed thus far, and to celebrate this well-deserved honour in grand style! Congratulations my friend,” he said.
ACT Party Leader David Seymour said, “A huge congratulations to Venkat from the ACT Party. Venkat’s story is the epitome of New Zealand. A New Zealander by choice who keeps choosing to contribute to the richness of this great country. It is a great day when he is honoured by the Queen. This honour is richly deserved. Along with his contribution to Indian Newslink, his annual Indian Newslink Business Awards are a wonderful celebration of the Indian business community in New Zealand and a highlight on my calendar. It is great to see Venkat acknowledged today with an Order of Merit,” he said.
Praneeta Kochhar Mahajan is a Reporter and Columnist who writes on a variety of topics including current affairs. She efficiently manages her business, professional career and at-home duties as a wife and mother of two young children. She lives with her husband, their son and daughter in Hamilton.