Queen Elizabeth admits INL Editor as Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit

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Praneeta Kochhar Mahajan

Praneeta Kochhar Mahajan

Hamilton, December 31, 2021

Venkat Raman recognised in the New Year Honours List

                                           

                                                                           Venkat Raman (TV One Photo)

 

It is a proud day for the Indian Newslink family, all its friends, patrons and the Asian communities at large as our Editor, community worker, and above all, a mentor to many, Venkat Raman has been appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his service to the Indian community.

The Honour was conveyed by the Governor General Cindy Kiro on behalf of the Queen and will be well received by people in New Zealand and across the world.

 

Venkat Raman with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern aboard a Royal New Zealand Airforce Jet travelling from Sydney to Auckland on February 28, 2020

Deserved and earned Honour

Venkat has been described by many as a genuine, honest and highly revered member of the community in New Zealand. He has worked relentlessly over the years with high Journalistic integrity and anyone who has interacted with him will agree that the honour bestowed upon him is well deserved and truly earned.

I am sure that every member of the various communities in New Zealand will be proud today and reminded of the values of selflessness, hard work, dedication, integrity and collective growth, all of which are personified by our much loved Editor.

About the MNZM

The New Zealand Order of Merit is awarded to those “who in any field of endeavour, have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and the nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions, or other merits.”

The Queen is Sovereign and the Governor-General is the Chancellor of the Order.

A Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit conforms to the fifth level in the Order of Merit, which is above QSO and QSM.

 

Sir Anand Satyanand, then Governor-General with Venkat Raman, Judge Ajit Singh, Subhag Singh and Samina and Dr Ashraf Chaudhary at INL Offices on October 13, 2006 (INL Photo by Narendra Bedekar)

 Interaction with Leaders

Venkat is one of the few senior media personalities who is counted on by government bodies and institutions for regular meetings and consultations, including feedbacks of communities and discussions around policy-making.

He has worked closely and regularly with the then Prime Ministers Dame Helen Clark, Sir John Key, Sir Bill English and current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, several Ministers, Leaders of Political Parties and Members of Parliament. These meetings have helped the leaders to be assessed of public opinion on critical issues.

In addition to his constant contribution towards sharing the public opinions with the government, he has pioneered in creating intellectual properties which have served as a platform for interaction, discussion and collective acknowledgements of achievements by the members of the community.

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.

 

John Key (then Leader of the Opposition) speaking to Venkat Raman at INL offices on June 11, 2007

World Leaders interviews

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. Among them are Dr S Radhakrishnan, V K Krishna Menon, M Karunanidhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Khaleda Zia, Lee Kuan Yew, Mohammed Mahatir, the Emirs of Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar; President of UAE, King of Saudi Arabia, many Middle East Leaders including Yasser Arafat, Hafez Al Assad, Saddam Hussein, George Bush (Senior), Benazir Bhutto, Laisenia Qarase, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama many Cricket Stars including Sunil Gavaskar, Imran Khan and Ian Botham. He also interviewed several Hollywood and Indian film stars and directors.

He conducted weekly interviews for one hour live with Helen Clark during her nine-year tenure as Prime Minister- stated to be a journalistic record and an outstanding milestone for anyone working in the field.

He has also accompanied Heads of State and Prime Ministers on their overseas visits, especially to India, the Sub-Continent, ASEAN countries, Europe, 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.

 

Helen Clark (then Prime Minister) speaking to Venkat Raman at INL offices on June 16, 2007

Supportive reactions

The reactions from everyone associated with Indian Newslink and Venkat have been extremely heart-warming and supportive.

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.

 

A rare photo taken at Indian Newslink Business Awards November 28, 2016: Phil Goff, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Michael Wood, Jacinda Ardern and Andrew Little (INL Photo by Narendra Bedekar)

Michael Wood

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.’

Transport, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood (File Photo)

“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.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan

Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan (INL Photo)

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.

Christopher Luxon

National Party Leader Christopher Luxon was the Master of Ceremonies at the 13th Annual Indian Newslink Lecture held on August 16, 2021 (INL Photo by Narendra Bedekar)

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 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.

David Seymour

ACT Party Leader David Seymour (INL Photo)

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.

With this announcement and recognition, I hope that the youth and members of various diverse communities of New Zealand will once again be reminded of how the world needs and loves the good Samaritans in the society and every effort taken for the greater good of one’s country and community never goes unnoticed.

On a personal note, I wrote this article with immense love and respect for Venkat, a man who has always shown the right way to many and who continues to inspire and encourage anyone who wants to go above and beyond the ordinary to create a better tomorrow for everyone around them. I am humbled to write about humanity at its best.

Praneeta Kochhar Mahajan is an Indian Newslink Reporter and Columnist and 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.

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