Gurdwaras offer free food, accommodation for new migrants

Gurdwara Sri Kalgidhar Sahib in Takanini, Auckland is one of the largest in the world

Venkat Raman
Auckland, February 25, 2022

The Sikh community is extending its traditional love and hospitality to people arriving from overseas with accommodation, food and other support services.

Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand Spokesperson Daljit Singh said that more than 100 families have already benefited from the facility for the first week after their arrival.

And only 25% of them are from the Sikh community.

Daljit Singh, Spokesman for Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand

Diverse communities

“We are extremely happy that 60% of the family are from the Hindu community and the others are Muslims. True to the teachings of our Guru Nanak Dev Ji, we support people from all races, religions, income groups and other man-made differences. The free food and accommodation that we are offering to families and individuals arriving from overseas is a part of service to the ethnic communities,” he said.

Mr Singh said that although the country has moved into Phase Three of the Omicron management which require only those testing Covid-Positive and their contact families, the Supreme Sikh Society will continue to offer the services through its network of 24 Gurdwaras located throughout the country.

“As our borders open, thousands of people, including skilled workers will arrive to live and work in New Zealand. Not all of them will have access to accommodation immediately. Our Gurdwaras will therefore be open to serving these families. We will also arrange a meet and assist service at the international airports and transfer them to our Gurdwaras. All communities and people from arriving from all over the world are welcome,” he said.

Strict Code of Conduct

They will however be required to follow the strict code of conduct at Gurdwaras which are free of smoking, alcohol and non-vegetarian food. These places of worship also offer modern facilities and a clean environment.

As well as removing the MIQ requirement for international arrivals, New Zealand’s transition to Phase Three of Omicron Response has eliminated the requirement for home isolation or self-isolation for seven to ten days. This will ease some of the pressure on the government’s testing and contact tracing services over the next six weeks.

The Sprawling 11-acre Gurdwara complex in Takanini, Auckland, offers a host of facilities including an international sports ground and parking for 450 cars

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that since almost 95% of the population is fully vaccinated and Omicron is less severe, New Zealand can have a more devolved response and much greater self-management.

Those tested Covid Positive will be required to isolate, along with their household contacts for ten days. They can ‘release themselves from self-isolation’ thereafter, provided that they have no new or worsening symptoms and meet any testing requirements.

As such, the services offered by organisations like the Supreme Sikh Society will be invaluable.

Mr Singh is among the founding members of Sri Kalgidhar Sahib, popularly known as the ‘Takanini Gurdwara,’ located in the South Auckland suburb of Takanini. It also houses the office of the Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand Inc.

Rain or Sunshine, free distribution of food and groceries continue from Gurdwara Sri Kalgidhar Shaib in Takanini, Auckland

A unique Organisation

Indian Newslink has been a part of the journey undertaken by the Founders in 2003 with the acquisition of the land. Since then, the sprawling 11- acre complex, accommodates the Main Prayer Hall with Guru Granth Sahib, an international sports field with facilities for Basketball, Netball, Volleyball, Soccer, Cricket, Tennis, Badminton, Kabaddi and other games, Sikh Heritage School, Pre-School, fully-equipped library and playground for children.

Among the other facilities are floodlights, an in-built sound system, parking space for 450 cars, a ten-metre high mesh fence and two water bores with treatment plants.

A grandstand that can seat up to 2000 people will be built in the coming years.

In her inaugural speech on March 13, 2005, then Prime Minister Helen Clark said, “Sikhs have always been known for their pursuit of peace and harmony and the Gurdwara proves that belief. This Gurdwara will become a source of pride and convenience to thousands of members of the community.”

Volunteers at the Takanini Gurdwara preparing food parcels for distribution

Partners in Progress

Those sentiments were reflected by her successor John Key, during his visit to Sri Kalgidhar Sahib on March 8, 2015, to mark the Tenth Anniversary.

‘Sikhs have been partners in the progress of New Zealand for more than 100 years. The members of the Sikh community, with their huge support and involvement in various activities, are a source of inspiration to others wherever lived,” he said.

And on March 21, 2021, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden endorsed those sentiments.

“New Zealanders have always been impressed by the involvement of Sikhs in the local communities around the world. Their successful participation in the farming sector initially in the Waikato area is well known,” she said.

The Takanini Gurdwara has the largest collection of Plasma in New Zealand

Food Parcels and Vaccination Services

Gurdwara Sri Kalgidhar Sahib has become a source of endearment and inspiration throughout New Zealand, especially after Covid-19 hit the country in March 2020. As well as being nominated as a ‘Community Centre’ by the local and federal government, the Takanini facility holds the record for various types of human effort.

These include delivery and distribution of more than 250,000 food parcels to almost all communities in the Greater Auckland region, Covid-Vaccination to more than 4400 people including eligible children and free services to the poor and the vulnerable.

Gurdwara Sri Kalgidhar Sahib assisted in getting more than 4400 people vaccinated at its Takanini Complex in Auckland

“Distribution and delivery of food parcels (including groceries and cooked food) continue to about 500 families from Te Kauwhata in the South to Henderson in the West. As New Zealand opens its borders, we are coordinating with Gurdwaras all over New Zealand to welcome people needing isolation or merely accommodation and food for the first seven days of their arrival, helping them to settle down. We see a sharp increase in the numbers of such people after April 13, 2022, when all visa holders who are vaccinated are eligible to come to New Zealand. We have reserved accommodation at various Gurdwaras for about 100 such families,” Mr Singh said.

Daljit Singh can be contacted on Phone: 0064-21803512; Email: supremesikhsocietynz@gmail.com

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