In a historic event for the Hindu community in the island country, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark inaugurated the first New Zealand Hindu Conference, by lighting the holy lamp at the Hindu Heritage Centre in Auckland on May 12, 2007.
Hindus Second Largest Religious Community in NZ
The theme of the conference was "Contribution of Hindu Community to the National Life of New Zealand". 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 organisation. 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 that it grew by 62% in the last 5 years.
Hindu Contribution to New Zealand
The Prime Minister acknowledged the Hindu contribution to the national life of New Zealand in her special address to the audience. Dr Magesan, in his keynote address, 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 a few decades. In education, the number of graduates, post graduates and doctoral degree holders in Hindu community multiplied three fold as compared to the total population, in percentage terms. 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.
Manukau: Hindu Capital of NZ
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. Haare Williams, the kaumatua (a Maori elder) and Tangata Whenua (son of the soil), blessed the occasion with a Maori traditional prayer. Swami Vigyananand of the World Hindu Council chanted a Hindu prayer on the auspicious occasion.
A number of Hindu dignitaries from overseas attended the event. Aruneshwar Gupta, President of Hindu Heritage Foundation; Ravi Kumar, joint coordinator Sewa International; Vijay Singhal, Secretary of Hindu Council of Australia; and Swami Sanyuktanand from Fiji Sevashram Sangha participated in the conference. The welcome address was given by Vinod Kumar, a successful businessman from Auckland, and the President of the Hindu Council of New Zealand Inc. Shri Sridhara Mysore, the media and PR coordinator of Hindu Council of New Zealand Inc., was the master of ceremony.
Following the success of this conference, and to satisfy the expectations of the audience, next year's conference will be held from 16 - 18 May 2008 with the theme "Sustaining New Zealand Communities with Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda".
For more information, please contact Dr Guna Magesan, Conference Coordinator