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By: Ganesh Sovani
June 10, 2007
expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer
is at the bottom.
(The author is an Advocate at the Bombay High Court)
Hon. Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, inaugurated the
1st New Zealand Hindu Conference, a historic event for the Hindu community
in New Zealand, by lighting the lamp for the auspicious beginning of the
conference on 12 May 2007 at the Hindu Heritage Centre, Auckland.
|The theme of the 1st New Zealand Hindu Conference was "The contribution of
Hindu community to the national life of New Zealand". It covered the
economic, health, environmental, social and cultural aspects.
NZ Herald about the Hindu culture and the
Twice a week, the 52 pupils at Mangere"s new Global Indian International
School sing two national anthems in three languages.
First, they sing God Defend New Zealand in
Maori and English, then Jana Gana Mana (The Minds of
the People), the Indian national anthem. It"s the kind of accommodation to
three cultures that New Zealand"s 65,000 Hindus have to make every day.
About 150 of them are meeting at Mangere this weekend in what is billed as
the first New Zealand Hindu conference to discuss how to sustain their
culture in their new land
The article is available at: Hindu centre embraces two cultures
|The keynote address was
presented by Dr Guna Magesan, general secretary, Hindu Council of New
Zealand Inc and a senior scientist with NZ government research
organization. In his presentation, he highlighted the fact (based on NZ
census 2006) that Hindu community is the second largest faith-based
community in New Zealand and it grew by 62% in the last 5 years. He also
highlighted the Hindu contribution in health, economic, education, social
and cultural aspects.
Dr Magesan mentioned how Hindu doctors and nurses are providing services
by working for the various health boards and also running successful
private hospitals, thereby fulfilling the shortage of skills in the health
sector. In terms of economics, he explained how the Hindu migrants moved
from mini business (corner dairy shops) to mega projects in matter of few
decades. In education, he highlighted that the number of graduates, post
graduates and doctoral degree holders in Hindu community is at least 3
times more when compared to total NZ population, in percentage scale. In
social and cultural aspects, Dr Magesan showed evidences of strengthening
bonds between Hindus and Maori community, and also how Hindus have
integrated with the New Zealand society while maintaining the Hindu
identity intact. He pointed out that all these contributions are not well
recognized by the government. The Prime Minister acknowledged the Hindu
contribution to the national life of New Zealand in her special address to
the audience. She thanked the conference organizers for organizing the
historic conference and was impressed by the vision and mission statements
of the organization.
Sir Barry Curtis, the Mayor of Manukau city, mentioned that Manukau is the
Hindu capital of New Zealand since a large number of Hindus live in the
Manukau county. Mr Haare Williams, the kaumatua (a Maori elder) and
Tangata Whenua (son of the soil), blessed the occasion with a Maori
traditional prayer along with Swami Vigyananand of World Hindu Council who
blessed with the Hindu prayer. Haare Williams was impressed by the welcome
by the Hindu community and told the audience that he felt being at home,
and wanted to participate in future conferences.
||This conference also provided a platform for all the Hindu organizations
and like-minded groups to showcase their contributions to the New Zealand
society. There were 7 paper presentation sessions and 3 workshops. The
workshops focused on issues which were common to all Hindu organizations,
and also to the wider community, such as Health and wellbeing ,
Education and culture and Social beliefs and family .
||Although this conference was mainly for the New Zealand community,
presence of a number of visitors from overseas has encouraged the
conference organizers to go worldwide next year. Shri Aruneshwar Gupta,
President of Hindu Heritage Foundation, Shri Ravi Kumar, joint coordinator
Sewa International, Shri Vijay Singhal, Secretary of Hindu Council of
Australia and Swami Sanyuktanand from Fiji Sevashram Sangha also
participated and blessed the conference.
There were number of presentations given by highly qualified research
scholars, university lecturers of both Hindu and non-Hindu origin.
Discussions following the presentations and during the workshops were
highly appreciated by the audience, and the participants suggested that
the conference organized need to provide more time for such discussions in
the future conferences. A session on Working with Government Agencies
was an instant hit among the audience and we believe that this would
become a regular feature in our future conferences. Hindu Council of New
Zealand Inc. have identified key issues of the Hindu community and have
decided to launch the Hindu Social Services Charitable Trust to work with
the community and the government agencies to find solutions to those
burning social issues.
The conference organizers were overwhelmed by the response that they
received, and it appeared that the conference had caught the imagination
of the people. There was an active participation from various government
agencies, professionals, university staff, business leaders, Maori elders,
and community and youth leaders.
Following the success of this conference, and to satisfy the expectations
of the audience, next year s conference was announced to be held from 16
to 18 May 2008 with the theme Sustaining New Zealand Communities with
Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda .
Source: Release by Hindu Council of New Zealand Inc, New Zealand
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