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The Journey through the Years 2008:

The death of Sir Edmund Hillary, the murder of a young Dairy owner in January and a liquor storeowner in June plunged New Zealanders into a state of shock and sorrow.

These and other safety-related incidents outraged the Indian and South Asian communities, prompting them to take out a procession in Manukau City demanding urgent action from the Government.

John Key forms Government

The worsening safety and security situation in many parts of Auckland, Prime Minister Helen Clark’s standoff with Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama of Fiji and other local issues spelt disaster for Labour at the December 8 election.

While incumbent Prime Minister Helen Clark and most of her party colleagues retained their electoral seats in their respective constituencies in the General Election held on November 8, the Labour Party suffered a humiliating defeat. Ms Clark resigned from the leadership of the Party, allowing Phil Goff to take charge.

For the first time in New Zealand’s Parliamentary history, two Persons of Indian origin (Dr Rajen Prasad from Labour and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi from National) became lawmakers as List MPs.

John Key became the Prime Minister and vowed to put the economy on track.

A committee charged with the task of ‘Building a Better Fiji’ met to formulate a People’s Charter to map out the future direction of the country.

The ‘Real Estate Agents Bill,’ introduced to Parliament, was designed to bring offending real estate agents to justice.

The long-felt need to govern immigration consultants and protect innocent hopefuls from being exploited was finally being addressed with the government introducing a licensing regime for consultants in New Zealand and overseas.

India’s Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram presented a budget with series of concessions to the farming sector and to those in the middle class, hoping to placate the feelings of common people but public reaction and media reports were not encouraging.

Indian workers going overseas on work permits could expect protection against exploitation, as the Emigration Act 1983 was being appropriately amended to address the issues.

Visiting Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said India was keen to sign a Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand. During his visit, Mr Nath presented the ‘Padma Vibhushan’ Civilian Award posthumously to Sir Edmund Hillary at a function hosted by Governor General Anand Satyanand at the Government House in Auckland.

Business Awards

We announced the establishment of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards (IBA) to recognise and reward successful businesses operated, managed or franchised by People of Indian origin in New Zealand. The Publication appointed a Panel of Judges to decide on the finalist and winners in each category. The Awards were presented to the winners in each category at a Gala Black Tie and Dinner held at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Auckland City on November 19.

The Publication also launched the Indian Newslink Journalism Scholarship programme in conjunction with the AUT University at the Awards Night.

Governor General Anand Satyanand and Susan Satyanand visited India during which he attended meetings at New Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Indian Bank here

Bank of Baroda, India’s third largest nationalised bank with global business worth more than $85 billion announced that it would establish commercial banking operations in New Zealand, initially with a branch in Auckland.

Election fever was giving rise to the political temperature of the nation as the battle lines were drawn and the two dominant parties, Labour and National – had pitched their battle tents.

The heat and dust of politics embroiled a nation, as it readied itself for the polls on November 8. It was riddled with scandal-mongering, name-calling, and replete with skullduggery.

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