Our History 2018-08-08T16:10:27+00:00

The Auckland Indian Association foundation members came together in the early 1900’s having travelled from India by sea to discover the beauty land of the long white cloud. Having passed through Australia and the Islands on the boat journey’s their final destination was to be on the other side of the world Auckland, New Zealand.

Our founders had banded together united and supporting each other and the community. During this time the small number of Indians of various cultures, religions coming from various states and regions in India. These brave individuals became family and they met regularly for support and to learn from one another.

We continue to honour this today, coming together at Eden Terrace Auckland, to support and to maintain our Indian belonging and heritage, through the Auckland Indian Association and now may other groups that have formed to support one another throughout Auckland, and Aotearoa.

The foundation years (early 1920’s) required much learning, development and acceptance. The passion and pride of each of these individuals blossomed, and in 1938 through voluntary service of these early Indian settlers, The Auckland Indian Association officially become an Incorporated Society (AIAI).

For over 90 years we have grown the non-profit society with the unselfish service, support and hard work, required and given by many like-minded volunteers, of all ages. To this day here in Auckland, our Society’s objectives are to: Maintain our Indian heritage and culture, and to support the Indian and wider community here in Auckland, New Zealand.

Cultural celebrations, education, health expos, and concerts are hosted at the Auckland Indian Association Inc. Mahatma Gandhi Centre and are thankfully supported by local councils, schools, businesses and sponsors. We support the community, and wish to leave lasting memories of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre and The Auckland Indian Association, to all and generations to come.

Volunteers, young and old have helped for over 70 years now, this selflessness has allowed Auckland’s to continue enjoying annual events and cultural activities, education, expo’s, bazaars, concerts, sporting and village and family functions and more.

The Auckland Indian Association Inc. annual cultural events have been made able, by our member’s annual membership, donations, and supported by business sponsorship, local councils, schools, and the wider groups. We have been thankful to so many who have continued to support events and celebrations we provide to the community and will continue doing so for generations to come.

The objects of the Association are:

To preserve the Indian culture and heritage and promote the Indian culture, heritage, education and overall development of the Indian community in the Auckland Region

To promote the religious and spiritual advancement of the Indian community in the Auckland Region

To facilitate communication and understanding of cultural matters between the Indian community and the wider community both within and outside of the Auckland Region

To provide a multicultural community centre and related facilities which caters for the cultural, religious social and sporting needs of the Indian community in the Auckland Region

To actively support and co-operate with other organisations both within and outside of the Auckland Region whose objects are similar to those of the Association.

Friday, May 24, 2013   Bharat Jamnadas

During the last month there’s been a lot of talk about racism in New Zealand. Auckland City’s Ethnic People’s Advisory Panel organised a conference to discuss whether racism impacted on Auckland as a diverse city and a majority (76%) of television viewers voted Yes, that we are a racist country in a survey run for TV3’s new show The Vote.

How is racism impacting on the Indian communities living in Aotearoa New Zealand? There has been a lot of talk about structural racism and institutional racism but what was it like when Indians first started arriving here more than 100 years ago.

Ten years ago I was at a function at Pukekohe where the Pukekohe Indian Association was celebrating the 50th anniversary of their community centre, the Nehru Hall. In her address, the town’s mayor at that time, Heather Maloney, apologised for the “past injustices” that the Indian community encountered during the early days. Indians had been settling in Pukekohe since the early 1920s to take up jobs in the market gardens. They went on to lease land and eventually buy properties, working hard to become nationally recognised market gardeners. Maloney said until recent times (late 1950s) Indians were not allowed in the dress circles of cinemas and most barbers would not cut their hair. No mention was made of the apology in a report in the Franklin County News but it did quote the mayor as saying that the Indian community were to be admired for the way they “overcame the various obstacles”.

The Franklin County News was formerly the Franklin Times, which served the Franklin District and Pukekohe Borough. To put it mildly, the Franklin Times was extremely racist in its views on Indians (and the Chinese) when they first started to settle in the area. This is an extract from the Franklin Times in its lead story titled “Our Asiatics” on 18 January 1926.

“The serious danger with which civilisation is threatened does not come from actual savages or even from those of a higher plane, who may be called barbarians. The peril is from those dark-skinned races which have long ago put on a thin veneer of semi-civilisation, but have remained for centuries without rising any higher- are constitutionally incapable of rising any higher. No better example of this class of people can be found than the Hindus. Mentally and morally incapable of real civilisation they many centuries ago, rose as high on the human plane as they had it in them to rise, and have remained stationary ever since.”

The article went on to say that the “invasion of Asiatics” into civilised society could not but prove an unmitigated disaster if allowed to continue unchecked. That it upset all living standards and socially demoralised the existing population. That the worst was yet to come when inter-breeding would happen resulting in “mongrel off-spring, unable to bear the burden of civilisation.” The article ended with the remarks that the ruin of a few hundred industrious farmers was a mere trifle compared to the future degradation of our race if the peaceful penetration of these Asiatics was not stayed.

Instances of bigotry and prejudice persisted during these years all over New Zealand.. The country had a White New Zealand Immigration policy. The residents in Pukekohe were mainly potato farmers, mostly British, who felt threatened by the small number of Indians who began to settle there and start leasing land. This created economic competition for the white farmers. Indians first began to settle there in dribs and drabs from as early as 1911. They were attracted to the area as labourers for white farmers. But following World War 1 along with the Chinese, Indians started to lease small plots of land and grew vegetables for sale. Hostility towards them increased. They were constantly accused of undercutting Europeans because they could work longer hours, accept lower rates for pay, and maintain a far lower standard of living than that of any European.
Faced with this economic competition, the European farmers decided to form the White New Zealand League in 1925. Supported by the shopkeepers, the League drummed up xenophobia about an impending Asian invasion and the dangers of racial breeding. It started advocating that land should not be sold or leased to the Asians. It wanted Asian immigration to be banned and some members even demanded the repatriation of Asians resident in New Zealand.

Considerable publicity was given to the activities of the White New Zealand League. In other issues, the local paper claimed that the Indian migrant was a ‘pariah’ and an ‘outcast’ and a degraded species, compared to the “true” Aryans of India. The morality and behaviour of the small number of Indians in the area also came under focus. The paper also once quoted the local mayor as saying that he did not know how it was that a “darkie” was able to make the land produce more than a white man. Other newspapers at the time which endorsed the League’s aims were the Auckland Star and New Zealand Herald.

The constant barrage of inflammatory articles kept appearing in the Franklin Times against Indians in the 1920s. There were some Indians who wrote letters to newspapers regarding their opposition to the activities of the New Zealand White League. A frequent contributor of letters to the newspapers was Jelal (Mick) Natali. He arrived to Auckland in 1920 from Gujarat and could read and write English fluently, unlike most their fellow countrymen who made their home in New Zealand. He wrote about discrimination against Indians in the country arguing that Indians were British subjects and should be treated as such. In a letter written on 22 July 1922 in the Auckland Star he drew attention to the treatment between the white and dark skinned people at the Hobson Street Tepid Baths. He complained that all except one bath was reserved for white people. His appeal to the City Council for equality of treatment received scant consideration. He also wrote many letters defending Indian’s right for independence.

By the end of the 1920s there wasn’t much support in terms of subscribing members for the White New Zealand League. Despite this on 29 May 1929 The Franklin Times believed that the League’s influence was greater than that indicated by active membership. In 1937 the Registrar of Incorporated Societies struck it off. But racism continued in Pukekohe and other parts of the country. The New Zealand Truth highlighted some of these incidents in an article on 3 October 1961 called Pukekohe ‘a town with a colour bar’ .It quoted a Maori social worker as saying it was “the most segregated-minded town he has ever been in.” Pukekohe was referred to as the Little Rock, a town in Southern United States where racism was rife against African Americans.

The result of the hostilities and bigotry was that the Indian community kept a low profile. It also prompted them to form organisations to fight racism and help them safeguard their rights and privileges. The Auckland Indian Association was formed in 1920. Many Pukekohe residents were also members until they formed their own association in 1937. Prior to that there were too few members of their community to form a body. The Wellington Indian Association was formed in 1925 and a County Section at Taumaranui in 1926. In response to the activities of the White New Zealand League, the Auckland, Wellington and Taumaranui Associations formed the New Zealand Central Indian Association on July 26, 1926. Among the objectives were to demand full benefit of British justice in New Zealand, to promote better understanding between Indians and other New Zealanders, to monitor laws that would affect Indians, to promote advancement of education among the New Zealand Indian community and to educate and enlighten the public on matters concerning Indians and India. Its constitution stated that the association seek the redress of wrongs affecting Indians in New Zealand. According to Dr Jacqueline Leckie in her book They Sleep Standing Up; Gujaratis in New Zealand, “Although they were conscious of ethnic, religious and caste difference, they identified collectively when faced with discrimination by the wider New Zealand society. Indian associations, organised according to regions in New Zealand, were a formal channel for assessing identity and defending Indians against racism.”

This article is a small slice of what racism was like for an Indian in the country in the early days of migration, despite the small population of Indians at that time in the country. There were only 671 Indians recorded during the 1921 census and 987 in 1926.

Since the revision of the immigration regulations in 1987, removing discriminatory provisions against immigration from Asia, Indians now form a significant part of the New Zealand population. According to the census in 2006 there were 105,000 Indians recorded. There probably are now 140,000 Indians resident in the country. The last census figures are yet to be released.

Anti-Asian hysteria was once again revived in the 1990s and 2000s and reported almost daily in the New Zealand media. The use of the words “influx” and “invasion” by the media was the same language used by the Franklin Times in the 1920s. A politician was quoted as saying that Asian immigrants were “bringing the third world to New Zealand.”(Sunday Star Times, 10 November 2002).

With the growth of the Indian population have come many challenges within the community. Many new migrants have been unable to find employment in the area of their qualification and skill, resorting to such jobs as driving taxis, working as service station attendants and turning to labour intensive businesses such as liquor shops, dairies, speciality shops, takeaway food stalls and restaurants. There are many Indians in professional occupations and also many Indians own small and medium enterprises in New Zealand.

The Indian community is at a stage where they have fought for equality and cultural respect. Despite many setbacks such as many who are seeking good jobs, they are well settled.

The environment that the Indian community in Pukekohe lived in during the 1920s has changed. We now live in a totally different world of media and communications. The Franklin Times was indeed a powerful tool to spread the word of bigotry and prejudice against the Indian community. But we now have a media which is much more powerful. A media which has a big role to play to make life better in this country, for not only the Indian community, but also for all the communities living in New Zealand.

*Bharat Jamnadas is a former senior journalist in Fiji and former senior reporter/director for Asia Downunder (1994-2011).

the first officiating officers were:

President –    Late Shri Kanjibhai Keval, from Virod – Baroda, India
Secretary –   Late Shri Dayalbhai Ranchhod – Delwada, India

While there were many members in a supporting role, the following respected persons were devoted and dedicated towards the funding and administration aspects of the association

The above members would travel by trams to the wider community, in their fundraising efforts for the vision of owning their own premises for cultural and religious activities.

Meetings were held at Trades Hall, and subsequently at Manchester Hall in Hobson St. Thereafter they were held at Late Shri Devjibhai Patel’s shop on New North Road, Eden Terrace.

Shri Daulat Ram Joshi, Punjab
Shri Santa Singh, Punjab
Shri Khusalbhai Madhav Pera, Gujarat
Shri Chhimabhai Vallabh Tavdi, Gujarat
Shri Gandabhai Hira Bodali, Gujarat
Shri Jelal K. Natali Rander, Surat
Shri Devjibhai Patel Syod, Palsana
Shri Parbhubhai Kasanji Bhuvasan, Bardoli
Shri Lalbhai N. Patel, Bhagvanpura
Shri Rameshbhai N. Patel Karadi, Gujarat
Shri Morarbhai Soma Matwad, Gujarat
Shri Maganbhai Bhikha Navsari, Gujarat
Shri Nanubhai Bhana Nimrai, Gujarat

1985 Rameshbhai Nanu (MBE) from KARADI (Late)

1985 Chhimabhai Vallabh from TAVDI (Late)

1985 Chhotubhai Sima (JP) (MNZM) from MATVAD

1985 Lailtaben Chunilal Patel from VANKANER

1985 Parbhubhai Kanji from SHIKER

1985 Thakorbhai Parbhubhai (QSM) from BHUVASAV

1985 Vallabhbhai Daya from TAVDI

1985 J K Natali (ESQ) from RANDER

1985 Gandabhai Hira Patel from BODALI (Late)

1985 Haribhai Jagubhai from SHACHIN

1985 Khushalbhai Madhavbhai from PERA (Late)

1992 Govindbhai Mitha from NIMRAI (Late)

1992 Jagishbhai Natali (JP)(MNZM) from SURAT

1992 Kantibhai Daya from BARODA

1992 Prempal Josh from KULTHAM

1992 Ramanbhai Chhiba from KARADI

1992 Chandubhai Nathu from KOTHAMDI

1992 Ramanbhai Ganda (QSM) from BODALI

1992 Rambhai Dahya from KOTHAMDI

1992 Ramubhai Ranchhod Patel (QSM)(JP) from VIRAVAL

1992 Taraben Satyanand from FIJI (Late)

2004 Amrutbhai Morar Patel from MACHHAD

2004 Arvindbhai Kesry from KARADI

2004 Harshadbhai K Patel from ONJAL

2004 Ghelabhai Jivanji Patel from VEGAM (Late)

2004 Kanubhai Chhagan Patel from MATVAD

Year President Year Secretary
1920-1923 Kanjibhai Kavel Patel 1920-1920 Dayalbhai Ranchod
1923-1925 J K Natali 1923-1925 Dullabhbhai Jeram
1926-1940 Kanjibhai Kavel Patel 1926-1940 Naranbhai Deva/Bhikhabhai Kana Patel
1941-1942 Devjibhai Patel 1941-1942 Dayabhai Deva Lad
1942-1943 Morarjibhai 1942-1943 Dayabhai Deva Lad
1945-1946 Parbhubhai Dullabh 1945-1946 Vallabhbhai Daya
1946-1947 Devjibhai Kanji 1946-1947 Vallabhbhai Daya
1947-1948 Devjibhai Kanji 1947-1948 Chhimabhai Vallabh
1948-1949 Devjibhai Patel 1948-1949 Maganbhai Bhikha
1949-1950 Devjibhai Patel 1949-1950 Maganbhai Bhikha
1950-1951 Devjibhai Patel 1950-1951 Maganbhai Bhikha
1951-1952 Devjibhai Patel 1951-1952 Lalbhai Nathu Patel
1952-1953 Devjibhai Patel 1952-1953 Maganbhai Bhikha
1953-1954 Devjibhai Patel 1953-1954 Maganbhai Bhikha
1954-1955 Devjibhai Patel 1954-1955 Maganbhai Bhikha
1955-1956 Devjibhai Patel 1955-1956 Narshibhai Bhana Pachia
1956-1957 Devjibhai Patel 1956-1957 Narshibhai Bhana Pachia
1957-1958 Morarbhai Soma 1957-1958 Narshibhai Bhana Pachia
1958-1959 Dayalbhai Keshry 1958-1959 Maganbhai Dheda
1959-1960 Lalbhai N Patel 1959-1960 Vallabhbhai Daya
1960-1961 Lalbhai N Patel 1960-1961 Vallabhbhai Daya
1961-1962 Lalbhai N Patel 1961-1962 Vallabhbhai Daya
1962-1963 Lalbhai N Patel 1962-1963 Jagdishbhai Natali
1963-1964 Parbhubhai Kasanji 1963-1964 Kantibhai Bhaga
1964-1965 Parbhubhai Kasanji 1964-1965 Ganeshbhai Soma
1965-1966 Parbhubhai Kasanji 1965-1966 Ganeshbhai Soma
1966-1967 Dayalbhai Keshry 1966-1967 Ganeshbhai Soma
1967-1968 Vallabhbhai Daya 1967-1968 Jagdishbhai Natali
1968-1969 Vallabhbhai Daya 1968-1969 Jagdishbhai Natali
1969-1970 Vallabhbhai Daya 1969-1970 Chhotubhai Mistry
1970-1971 Thakorbhai Parbhu 1970-1971 Babubhai Merai
1971-1972 Thakorbhai Parbhu 1971-1972 Babubhai Merai
1972-1973 Thakorbhai Parbhu 1972-1973 Kantibhai Daya
1973-1974 Thakorbhai Parbhu 1973-1974 Kantibhai Daya
1974-1975 Thakorbhai Parbhu 1974-1975 Jagdishbhai Natali
1975-1976 Jagdishbhai Natali 1975-1976 Ramanbhai Patel
1976-1977 Jagdishbhai Natali 1976-1977 Kantibhai Chhita
1977-1978 Chhotubhai Sima 1977-1978 Bhikubhai Bhula
1978-1979 Chhotubhai Sima 1978-1979 Rameshbhai Mehta
1979-1980 Chhotubhai Sima 1979-1980 Chhotubhai Mistry
1980-1981 Chhotubhai Sima 1980-1981 Dineshbhai Tailor
1981-1982 Ramanbhai Ganda 1981-1982 Dineshbhai Tailor
1982-1983 Ramanbhai Ganda 1982-1983 Dineshbhai Tailor
1983-1984 Chhotubhai Sima 1983-1984 Dineshbhai Tailor
1984-1985 Chhotubhai Sima 1984-1985 Dineshbhai Tailor
1985-1986 Dineshbhai Tailor 1985-1986 Shantilalbhai Prema
1986-1987 Jagdishbhai Natali 1986-1987 Ashokbhai Darji
1987-1988 Chhotubhai Sima 1987-1988 Ashokbhai Darji
1988-1989 Chhotubhai Sima 1988-1989 Ashokbhai Darji
1989-1990 Ramanbhai Ganda 1989-1990 Shantilalbhai Prema
1990-1991 Ramanbhai Ganda 1990-1991 Shantilalbhai Prema
1991-1992 Ramanbhai Patel 1991-1992 Parshottambhai Govind
1992-1993 Ramanbhai Patel 1992-1993 Parshottambhai Govind
1993-1994 Ramanbhai Patel 1993-1994 Parshottambhai Govind
1994-1995 Ramanbhai Patel 1994-1995 Parshottambhai Govind
1995-1996 Kanubhai Patel 1995-1996 Parshottambhai Govind
1996-1997 Kanubhai Patel 1996-1997 Dhirubhai M Patel
1997-1998 Maganbhai D Patel 1997-1998 Parshottambhai Govind
1998-1999 Maganbhai D Patel 1998-1999 Parshottambhai Govind
1999-2000 Harshadbhai K Patel 1999-2000 Sureshbhai Kanji
2000-2001 Harshadbhai K Patel 2000-2001 Sureshbhai Kanji
2001-2002 Harshadbhai K Patel 2001-2002 Sureshbhai Kanji
2002-2003 Parshottambhai Govind 2002-2003 Mahendrabhai Jeram
2003-2004 Parshottambhai Govind 2003-2004 Mahendrabhai Jeram
2004-2005 Parshottambhai Govind 2004-2005 Mahendrabhai Jeram
2005-2006 Chandubhai Daji 2005-2006 Mukundbhai Bhikha
2006-2007 Chandubhai Daji 2006-2007 Mukundbhai Bhikha
2007-2008 Chandubhai Daji 2007-2008 Mukundbhai Bhikha
2008-2009 Harsadbhai K Patel 2008-2009 Dr Lingappa Kalburgi