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The Journey through the Years 2006:

This was the Year of Diplomacy, good and bad. A combatant Indian High Commissioner embarrassed his Government and the Host Government by refusing to leave the country even after being asked to return home. He was finally ordered to leave (in disgrace). His successor rebuilt bridges and excelled in performance.

Pakistan established its Diplomatic Mission with the appointment of a career-diplomat.

Overseas Citizenship

India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh handed over the Overseas Indian Citizenship Certificates to two prominent former Indian passport holders, symbolically launching the Scheme at the Pravasi Bhartiye Divas held in Hyderabad on January 9.

Echoes from the Queen Elizabeth Barracks, home of the Fiji Military Forces cast ominous shadows, as the relationship between the Prime Minister Qarase’s Government and Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama began to sour.

Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said overstayers may be able to regularise their status under new law being formulated. It was revealed that there were an estimated 21,000 overstayers and they could apply for work permit, permanent residence or family union upon return to their country.

Another new law came into effect on New Year’s Day denying automatic right of citizenship to children born in New Zealand whose parents were not permanent residents.

A Danish Newspaper created a worldwide stir by publishing cartoons of Prophet Mohammed. Indian Newslink said in its editorial that freedom of expression was our birthright, but with rights came responsibilities, discretion and restraint.

Untactful Diplomat

India’s sudden recall of its High Commissioner Harish Kumar Dogra sent ripples across diplomatic circles but the New Zealand Government opted to maintain a stony silence over the issue. Much drama ensued with the Indian Government impounding his diplomatic passport and making him persona non grata. Our editorial on this issue was widely applauded.

Indian Newslink launched its E-Paper on April 1. Its web edition was becoming popular with 12,000 visits per month.

New Governor General

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced that Judge Anand Satyanand would be the next Governor General. Indian Newslink celebrated the announcement with a 12-page supplement with exclusive photographs and information.

India’s career diplomat Kadakath Pathrose Ernest presented his credentials and assumed the post of High Commissioner. In less than two weeks, the High Commission became an example for excellent service and friendliness.

The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand raised its concern at the harassment of people of Muslim faith at the Auckland International Airport and called on authorities to address the problem.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner Munawar Bhatti arrived in Wellington to establish the new commission for the Islamic Republic.

The visit of Indian frigate INS Tabar to New Zealand helped India to showcase the growing strength of its navy and its increasing capability and interest in maritime technology.

New Zealand’s first Governor-General of Indian origin Judge Anand Satyanand was sworn into office on August 23. Prime Minister Helen Clark said he epitomised erudition, integrity and honesty.

Overseas Indian Affairs minister Vayalar Ravi visited New Zealand. He said his Ministry had launched a new initiative to facilitate Persons of Indian Origin to trace their roots in India.

Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram visited Wellington and Auckland. Indian Newslink discussed a number of issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora during an exclusive interview in Wellington.

National Party had a change of leadership when the incumbent Dr Don Brash resigned and John Key took over the leadership.

Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama staged a coup in Fiji on December 5, dismissed Laisenia Qarase and his Government and took over the administration. New Zealand, Australia, Britain and the US were among the countries that criticized the move.

Indian Newslink said in its editorial that Fiji should be allowed to determine its own destiny and the form governance the people wanted – bayonet or ballot.

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