The long-cherished dream of a direct air link between New Zealand and India will soon become a reality, Prime Minister John Key has said.
He said, “Once Air New Zealand finally gets delivery of their 787 Dreamliner, you will be able to fly from Auckland to Mumbai direct, non-stop.”
The celebrations were organised by the Auckland based Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust at the ASB Theatre (Aotea Centre) in the Central Business District.
Mr Key, who holds the Tourism Portfolio, said he was keen to strengthen New Zealand’s status as a preferred tourist destination and that he would welcome more tourists from India.
“I am pleased that more and more Indian films are being shot in New Zealand, including a Bollywood film recently in Queenstown. As we get closer to India on trade, education and cultural exchange, we wish to see tourism boosted,” he said.
Mr Key said the Indian ethnic media had an important role to play in New Zealand and praised the quality and unbiased reporting of Indian Newslink and Radio Tarana.
He said members of the Indian community in New Zealand have been effective partners in economic development, their involvement in public life in recent years was a welcome development.
Mr Key said Indians were known for their hard work and discipline and that their increasing presence in other areas was a welcome sign.
“India is emerging as a world economic power and our engagement with the world’s largest democracy has been on the rise. While both countries will benefit from a meaningful Free Trade Agreement, I am confident that the Indian community in New Zealand will also help in the process,” he said.
Ethnic Affairs Minister Pansy Wong agreed, saying that the involvement of the Indian community was imperative for strengthening Indo-Kiwi ties.
John Banks and Len Brown, respectively Mayors of Auckland and Manukau cities, spoke about the need to make the Auckland region a Super City.
They sought the support of the community in the local body elections in November, at which both are runners to the Auckland Region Mayoralty.
Earlier, hoisting the Indian National Flag, Waitakere City Council Chief Executive Vijaya Vaidyanath saluted the leaders who fought for India’s Independence.
“We remember them today with gratitude. It is their selfless struggle and the fortitude of the ensuing leadership that have seen India rise as a great Nation,” she said.
Stating that the 21st Century belonged to India, she spoke of the ‘Youth Power,’ which will take the country to greater heights.
“We must harness the power of the youth for the greater good of humanity. It is also heartening to see tightening ties between New Zealand and India in the political, commercial, social, cultural and sporting fields,” Ms Vaidyanath said.
More than 2000 men, women and children attended the festivities, which included the participation of a number of Indian associations and groups.
Among them were National MPs Dr Paul Hutchinson Dr Jackie Blue, Tau Henare, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Nicky Wagner and Dr Cam Calder; Opposition Leader Phil Goff and Labour MPs Dr Ashraf Choudhary, Dr Rajen Prasad and Carol Beaumont.
The four-and-half hours programme included performances by the students of local music and dance schools and other groups.
Teenager Meghana Bommena, a Mt Roskill Grammar School (Year 10) student was the ‘Bharat Mata’ (Mother India) for the fourth year in succession.
Trust Chairman Jeet Suchdev said Indian Independence Day is an occasion to demonstrate solidarity and spirit of oneness.
“The occasion brings to fore the selfless sacrifice of our great leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and thousands of people, who fought a bloodless battle to secure freedom. Our Independence Day programme is designed to pay homage to those leaders and the people of a great nation and remember our roots,” he said.
The official flag hoisting ceremony held at the India House (128 Knights Road, Lower Hutt), Wellington, the official residence of the Indian High Commissioner in Wellington is the only official function held in New Zealand over the years.
The event witnessed the assembly of People of Indian Origin, including businesspersons, community leaders, professionals and artistes.
High Commissioner Retired Admiral Sureesh Mehta read out the Independence Day Message of India’s President Pratibha Patil, while a number of singers rendered patriotic songs.
Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust
This Auckland based organisation will observe India’s Independence Day on Saturday, August 21 from 11 am at its building located on 14 Spring Road in Onehunga.
Since its inception in 1994 with just eight persons, the Trust has grown to be recognised as a unique organisation that cares for the aged.
Senior members of the society assemble at this venue regularly to greet each other, and amusing themselves with games and other events.
Project Manager Indu Bajaj said more than 200 of Indian and South Asian origin attend the meetings at the Trust facility.
“They attend ‘Positive Ageing’ day programmes four days a week in Central Auckland and once a week at our Pakuranga Branch in East Auckland. More than 700 seniors, including new residents benefit from the programmes every year,” she said.
She said the Trust aimed to provide culturally appropriate community based support services for the wellbeing and enhancement of quality of life to lonely, isolated, disabled and older people of Indian and South Asian Origin.
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The small Indian community in the South Island city of Dunedin has been organising cultural and other events, much to the delight of the entire community.
An organisation, simply known as ‘Indianz’ has been endeavouring to showcase India’s culture to the wider communities in Otago.
The Association’s enthusiastic office-bearers have organised Indian Independence Day on August 15 (at 3 pm), incorporating music, dance and food.
The event will be held at The Church of Christ, located at the Corner of St Andrew’s and Fileul Street and include bingo and a quiz contest.
Colours of India 2010
Art, costume, culture and entertainment will come to the fore at ‘Colours of India,’ a weeklong festival beginning in Christchurch on August 15.
Convenor Archna Tandon said live performances, workshops and demonstrations will be part of the event highlighting Indian dance and music.
The Christchurch City Council is supporting the festival being held at the Christchurch Art Gallery from 11 am to 4 pm until August 22.
1. Vijaya Vaidyanath speaking after hoisting the Indian National Flag in Auckland on August 15, 2010. With her are ‘Bharat Mata’ Meghana Bommena’ and Jeet Suchdev, Chairman, Bharatiya Samaj Charitable Trust
2. Sureesh Mehta, Indian High Commissioner