Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Can New Zealand ever walk its talk on Multiculturalism? Or is it just feel-good talk and a load of hot air?

Can New Zealand ever walk its talk on Multiculturalism? Or is it just feel-good talk and a load of hot air?

Thakur Ranjit Singh

It appears many, including the current government and Auckland Council, agree that New Zealand is fast becoming a diverse and multicultural society with over 200 ethnic communities and that is increasing over time. However they seem to have scant regard for multiculturalism. The Government, with so much talk about diversity, is yet to have a fully-fledged Ministry of Ethnic Affairs. All it has is a token Office and a token Minister overlooking that Office, without any action plan to work in appreciating and recognising changing demographic landscape of New Zealand.  Auckland Council, the second most powerful institution, with almost a third of country’s population has a Mayoral cheerleader called Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel (EPAP), masquerading as ethnic representation. Funding for Waitakere Ethnic Board (WEB), perhaps the only exemplary and very active ethnic body, has been withdrawn by Auckland Council, but they still strive on with the crumbs that are thrown their way. We wonder when NZ will walk its talk on multiculturalism. We are so thankful to Joris de Brez in his efforts to awaken the dead. Hope this workshop by New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Council (NZFMC) is able to remove the wax in the bureaucratic nonchalant ears of the movers and shakers- hoping hopefully.

Joris de Brez- Former Human Rights Commissioner, now works with  NZ Federation of Multicultural Councils ( NZFMC). He is conducting workshops on multicultural society in NZ and collecting data on feedback  for setting up a vision and steps for government and communities to take practical steps to remove the barriers identified.

Joris de Brez came to New Zealand from Holland in 1954, and this Dutch went on to become New Zealand’s Human Right’s Commissioner for two terms. Now, when he is retired, he has not been sitting idle. He has been snapped by New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils (NZFMC) as an honorary advisor.

Multicultural New Zealand is currently holding workshops throughout New Zealand to encourage discussion on a vision for a successful multicultural society and the barriers to achieving it. The workshops are part of a programme to develop a strategic agenda for multiculturalism and multilingualism in New Zealand, responding to our rapidly diversifying population. Outcomes of the workshops will be collated into a report which will set out a vision and the barriers that need to be overcome. A further round of workshops will then take place to determine what practical steps can be taken by government and communities to overcome the barriers.

Waitakere Ethnic Board's (WEB) financial support, as agreed by former visionary Waitakere City Council was scrapped by the Super City, Auckland Council. Despite this handicap, WEB continues to make a difference and remains a prominent advocate body for ethnic communities. WEB organised this Multicultural workshop. Pictured here are some of the Executive  Board Members of WEB with  Honorary adviser, Joris  de Brez. From Left: Thakur Ranjit Singh, Derec Lim,  Shirley Freeman, Kwan Lim, Joris de brez, Baljit Singh ( WEB Coordinator), Rajeev Vasudeva and Boaz Habib ( President)

One of these workshops was hosted by Waitakere Ethnic Board in Auckland Council Chambers in Henderson, Auckland on 29 March, 2015. Three workshop groups were formed, and overseen by facilitator, Joris de Brez. Two questions were given to be discussed. These included 1) An aspect of a successful multicultural society is…. and.. 2) A barrier to achieving a successful multicultural society is…..

The group leaders were Kwan Lim, Malvinder Singh and yours truly, Thakur Ranjit Singh. We came back to report the feedback of discussion by respective groups and this developed into a very healthy discussion. Predominantly, this article reports on discussion within my group, but also includes comments of others.

Kwan Lim, one of the group leaders, making her point during discussion

On the first question on the aspect of multiracial society, various ideas came in as follows:
a)    Teaching and inculcating good values and respect at young age to children at home and schools.
b)   Teaching own language, history and heritage – those having pride in their own will respect others.
c)    Encouraging intermixing, inter-mingling and interactions in all cases but particularly during respective cultural and religious festivals, like Eid, Diwali, Easter, Christmas Parades, Lantern festival, African, Asian and multi-cultural festival, among others.
d)   Enhance mutual respect – respect others to be respected in turn.
e)    Having liberal and conscientious religious leaders who can preach the message of love, peace, integration, respect and unity.
f)     Others: People of all ethnicities enjoy equitable outcomes in education, health, housing, justice and employment.  New migrants are welcomed, and are able to access services freely and successfully. There are spaces and opportunities for them to express their views and articulate their needs, so that Government hears them. Their qualifications, education and experience are recognized and valued, and they are able to find commensurate employment.
 
Malvinder Singh, one of the other group leaders, making a discussion point to one of the participants during networking.
The second question on barriers to achieving this dream of multiculturalism brought in, among others, the following thoughts, some of them bordering on controversy which appear to be the bitter truth.

a)    Religion – some felt that religion which was supposed to unite people and promote peace are reasons for divisions and violence.
b)   Politics – people indulging in politics tend to cause racial tensions to get popular support, or say things that may get them votes.
c)    Poverty – there seems to be is a divide between haves and have-nots, the Remueras and Otaras - and usually this division is on racial lines.
d)   Lack of reflection of the population in governance and running of the society. Example was given of Ferguson, USA where a population of predominantly African Americans have majority White police officers. Same issues applies in other areas where there is a perception that migrants and ethnic people are not reflected or represented in governing of them.
e)    The above leads to a partisan media which fails to reflect the makeup of the population in their newsrooms. Journalists and reporters without knowledge of other cultures and ethnicities tend to be insensitive and cause tension in multicultural communities.
f)     Others: There are insufficient platforms and spaces where migrants can express their views and concerns freely. Ethnic communities are grossly underrepresented, for example, in Auckland Council bodies.  The media also fail to reflect the diversity of society, being largely middle to upper class European. There is insufficient funding for service providers catering to new migrants, and consequently a lack of continuity of services. Services that are available are not sufficiently promoted and publicised, so many migrants are unaware of assistance available to them.
 
Third Group Leader, Thakur Ranjit Singh, nailing on the issue of lack of colour in Auckland Council's Media and Communications dept and NZ Mainstream media.
Commentary: Some of the issues discussed above are relevant to many grievances that migrants and ethnic people feel towards institutions and organisations like Auckland Council and New Zealand’s mainstream media which fail to reflect the changing colour of the country in their respective organisations. As far as Auckland Council is concerned, I have raised concerns about Auckland Council failing to add colour to its media and communications team with the changing demographic landscape of Auckland. Qualified ethnic media people from the Super City which is fast changing its colour, are denied positions, as the experience sought for these positions only fit the Anglo Saxon media people who get preference in the job market. 

In a group discussion, the Immediate Past President of WEB,Tuwe Kudakwashe is emphatically making a point, calling for authorities to walk their talk on multiculturalism.

On the heels of this workshop, I was pleasantly surprised to get a generic invitation from the Office of Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, Minister of Corrections, Minister for Pacific Peoples, Minister for Ethnic Communities, Associate Minister of Health and MP for Maungakiekie. As we know, National Government has scant regard for migrants and ethnic people. While they have a Minister, there is no Ministry or any special course of action by the government on ethnic people. The meeting has been called by the Minister to understand our needs and aspirations and key challenges and issues our community faces. Hail the Government and Minister who already does not know about these, despite so many forums, meetings and workshops blowing hot air on ethnic issues. I forwarded this message to a Community leader whose reply is self-evident:

I have attended few of these before, these are just PR (Public Relations) stunts from the ministers to show they care. There are hardly any action plans from the issues raised.

The issue here is: Does anyone care? How do you remove such scepticism on issues relating to ethnic people? The answer my friend, is blown with the wind, the answer is blown with the wind.

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[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a media commentator and runs blogs FIJI PUNDIT and KIWI PUNDIT. He is Media in Communications (MCS) scholar with honours from the best media school in New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, and is a former newspaper publisher from Fiji. Despite his qualifications and calls of adding colour to media, communications and newsrooms, he still cannot infiltrate the White Media Market, White recruiting agencies, and even add colour to Auckland Council’s media and communications team. With so much PR talk on ethnic issues, and wasted skills, what more is left to talk about aspirations and issues of ethnic people? Hence the skepticism of the community on discussion of ethnic issues in New Zealand]

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Monday, November 24, 2014

When Auckland Council fails to engage with ethnic community: A case of demographic imbalance

When Auckland Council fails to engage with ethnic community: A case of demographic imbalance

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Reference in this article to Ferguson, USA is to draw an analogy to ethnic imbalance that exists in strategic positioning of media and communications portfolio, not only at Auckland Council but other organizations which are frustrated at their inability to reach to out to increasingly non-Anglo-Saxon (European) people.

The forum was informed that English, Maori, Samoan, Hindi and Mandarin (Chinese) were languages most spoken in that order. If some 40,000 Punjabi and Gujarati speakers are taken in (many are bilingual with Hindi) then Hindi is the third most spoken language in New Zealand, especially Auckland. Yet, Carol Hayward from Engagement Communications team at Auckland Council, could not name an Indian Communications person in her team.

Part of audience at Waitakere Ethnic Board (WEB) Forum on "Engaging with ethnic communities at local level" Second from left in front is the President of WEB, Tuwe Kudakwashe, who spoke about racial imbalance in communication and engaging staff of Auckland Council
In an earlier Waitakere Ethnic Board (WEB) Forum on elections in August 2014, I seemed to have hit a sensitive nerve, or perhaps poked a hornet’s nest. I stated that because of Henderson-Massey Local Board’s indifference attitude towards WEB, which was based in Henderson, it (WEB) was considering shifting to Whau Local Board, based in New Lynn. Whau Local Board is not only the best reflection of a multicultural Auckland, but it is also very receptive to funding needs of WEB, which represents and advocates for ethnic communities. Whau Local Board is the face of Auckland, with a Samoan, a Tongan, a Chinese, an Indo-Fijian and of course the mainstream Anglo-Saxon Kiwi board members. Auckland Council or most of its other Local Boards, like the mainstream media, does not bear the demographic resemblance of a fast “browning” city. To give an illustration of this demographic imbalance, I had given an example of a US city, Ferguson, which has been in the news for wrong reasons.

Ferguson is a city in St. Louis County, Missouri, United States. It is part of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area. The population was 21,203 at the 2010 census. Two thirds or just over 14,000 are American-Africans (Black) while the others are White American. According to The Washington Post, the Ferguson Police Department "bears little demographic resemblance" to the mostly African-American community, which already harbored "suspicions of the law enforcement agency" preceding Brown's shooting, with 48  (over 90%) of the police force's 53 officers being white. It gained international attention on August 9, 2014, when a young man, Michael Brown, was fatally shot by a Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, sparking ongoing protests and civil unrest, which continues to date. (This case is still causing racial ripples in USA). Based on my statement, the Chair of Henderson –Massey, Vanessa Neeson had reportedly expressed her displeasure, and wanted a meeting with WEB and yours truly, but this never eventuated.

Some of WEB Executives, presenters and support personnel at the Forum
The latest WEB Forum on 12 November, 201 4 at New Lynn Community Centre kept digging up on that sensitive nerve as it was about “Engaging with Ethnic Community” at Local Government level. The President of WEB, Tuwe Kudakwashe led the discussion by pointing at lack of color in the Council where ethnic communities felt neglected, where “blue-eyed” boys got jobs which required engaging with the wider ethnic communities.

Presentations were by the Chair of Whau Local Board, Catherine Farmer, Steve Tollestrup from Waitakere Ranges Local Board, Peter Chan from Henderson-Massey Local Board, Carol Hayward, Senior Specialist Engagement and Consultation, Communications and Public Affairs of Auckland Council and Dr Camille Nakhid, Associate Professor at Auckland University of Technology and former Chair of EPAP- Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel.


Peter Chan
Steve Tollestrup

Catherine Farmer

One bone of contention was the composition and action (or rather the lack of it) of EPAP. KIWI PUNDIT will carry a special article on this subject, as to how EPAP has become a laughing stock of the Council and ethnic people. It was acknowledged that  hardly anybody know who these people are and many felt that it appears the new EPAP members are cheerleaders of the mayor, and merely add color to a white Council, without any teeth or longevity.

When asked how many people had responded to or knew about submissions to Auckland Plans, only a few hands went up reluctantly. This shows that despite their multi-million dollar communications budget and a media strategy that is still very white, Auckland Council is unable to engage with ethnic communities. Like in case of Ferguson mentioned earlier, it had to do with demographic imbalance. The forum was informed that English, Maori, Samoan, Hindi and Mandarin (Chinese) were languages most spoken in that order. If some 40,000 Punjabi and Gujarati speakers are taken in (many are bilingual with Hindi) then Hindi is the third most spoken language in New Zealand, especially Auckland. Yet, Carol Hayward from Engagement Communications team at Auckland Council, could not name an Indian Communications person in her team. Not that there have been no interest. Mayor Len Brown and CEO Stephen Town are aware of the complaints of an Indian Masters in Communications Graduate with Honors from AUT, who failed to make it to Auckland Council’s engagement team, and he, like most ethnic qualified people unable to be recognized for their skills, is driving a bus. As the President of WEB quipped earlier on, recruitment at Auckland Council is obviously lopsided in favour of “the blue-eyed “boys who get preference in communicating and engaging jobs in a fast “browning” landscape where the recipients are ‘foreign’ - ethnic people.

Carol Hayward

Dr Camille Nakhid












The reason this article began with reference to Ferguson, USA is to draw an analogy to ethnic imbalance that exists in strategic positioning of media and communications portfolio, not only at Auckland Council but other organizations which are frustrated at their inability to reach to out to increasingly non-Anglo-Saxon (European) people. My complaints have fallen on deaf ears and nobody seems to care to listen to a coloured boy. This lackadaisical attitude has given rise to a Frankenstein monster and social media attacks on an unresponsive Auckland Council. Auckland is much civilized than Ferguson and will not have racial uprising.


The author and blogger at KIWI PUNDIT blog site, Thakur Ranjit Singh (left) with former president of WEB and Deputy Chair of EPAP, Amail Habib (centre)  and Auckland Mayor Len Brown at Waitakere Diwali function. The mayor takes all opportunity to beat the drum of a multicultural city with opportunity for all, but fails to listen to grievances of ethnic communities.
However Auckland Council will continue to look hypocritical and receive flaks from ethnic meetings, ethnic blog articles (especially in KIWI PUNDIT) and other occasions where the Council or the Mayor tries to cloud reality and beat the drum of multiculturalism, fair opportunities and world’s most livable city, at ethnic festivals. In reality, all these seem to be myth at ground zero where Auckland Council fails to engage with ethnic communities because of demographic imbalance-just like in Ferguson, USA.

[About the author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is Media and Community Liaison Board member of Waitakere Ethnic Board (WEB). He is media and communications scholar from Auckland University of Technology, (AUT) with Masters in Communication Studies with Honours. He is a media commentator, runs two blog sites and is a social and community worker.]


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Is Labour losing touch? Can its caucus deliver loyalty?

Is Labour losing touch? Can its caucus deliver loyalty?

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Labour Party has been in the news for wrong reason. After some divisive actions within, we saw media hijacking Labour’s internal procedures, forcing the cart before the horse.  Labour Party has succumbed to external pressures to sacrifice its common sense, and punished and pushed aside its previous leader before knowing the reasons for the Party’s dismal performance. Quite a few were because of external factors, including attack politics and, of course, Dirty Politics.

After seeing the demise of sacrificial lamb on the altar of Labour leadership prematurely, I was invited to a ‘pocket” meeting called by Andrew Little in the process of getting yet another leader. As a new Labour member, I attended the meeting, and as a media commentator, I present a no-holds-barred observations. Rather than like other Indians and ethnic people, clutching to coat tails of MPs to climb up the list, I possess no political ambition. I am therefore happy just being KIWI PUNDIT and a Devil’s Advocate that Labour needs urgently.

ANDREW LITTLE at the Servo Cafe at Te Atatu Peninsula on Labour weekend on 27 October, 2014, addressing the audience at an informal meeting. The policies he will re-consider are on Capital Gains Tax and  retirement age to 67, among others.

However the question that goes begging is: Can the new Labour leader expect loyalty from the caucus which failed to honour the previous one?

I consider myself a left wing blogger for some years now - KIWI PUNDIT, (www.kiwipundit.blogspot.co.nz) counteracting negative comments that the Labour Office appears incapable of or ineffective in doing. I wrote many rebuttal articles and analysis of Dirty Politics in Kiwi Pundit blog site, sent e-mails to Labour office and some MPs, wrote so many Facebook comments and tagged people and MPs in Labour Party. However I never heard from them, from the Labour Office or was ever acknowledged by anybody. It seemed as if Labour Party has become colour-blind and I did not exist for them. It has been embarrassing for me when people in my community comment that I was backing the wrong horse, as they (Labour) would never acknowledge or value you. That may be true. That is how lethargic Labour machinery appears to be, and we are wondering why people have been voting with their feet.

When I became a Labour Party member some months ago, I had given my expertise as media and communications, and on many occasions, indicated to Labour Party about their wanting and ineffective media strategy (assuming they had one). There was no response to take advantage of my expertise. They contacted me to go door-knocking. Maybe Labour Party still thinks Indians/Indo-Fijians are only good as taxi/ bus drivers and dairy /liquor shop operators and manual chores, even for Labour Office. Previous leader’s Chief of Staff seemed to have been sleeping on the job, while the leader perished. Having a relative as your Press Secretary is unhealthy, as the previous Labour leader learnt at his peril. Lackadaisical attitude appears to have been the hallmark of Labour Office as one after the other their stuff-ups and inefficiency surfaced as the new leader took over.

Hence, it came as a surprise when I got an invitation from Andrew Little’s office for a chat at The Servo Cafe, 458 Old Te Atatu Rd, Te Atatu Peninsula on Monday of the Labour weekend (27 October, 2014) for a pocket meeting. So, I went to this meeting, oozing with excitement to ask some questions and raise some issues.

Who say Labour Party is not popular? A pleasant huge crown packed the Servo Cafe in Te Atatu Peninsula for informal meeting with Labour leadership candidate, Andrew Little.
When I walked into the Café, I was pleasantly surprised to see it chock-a block. Even more surprised I was to see Te Atatu MP, Phil Twyford, who the media made us believe, supported somebody else. The other thing that surprised me was the absence of colour and diversity in an area where we should have had more ethnic supporters. The gathering resembled a National/ ACT meeting in Remuera. I, as an Indo-Fijian felt as the odd one out from almost 95% White supporters. If David Lange had called such a meeting, the venue may have been teeming with Indians, Pacific Islanders and ethnic people. Maybe, only members were invited, and it indicates a falling membership, and losing of colour within Labour.

Does this resemble a Labour meeting  in Te Atatu or National/ ACT meeting in Remuera? Where has all colour and diversity gone from Labour party?
It was a good interaction, and Little appeared big. The question and answers saw good interaction, but one sore-point that became evident was COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, and COMMUNICATION, or rather the lack of it. As a media scholar, my assessment is that Labour Party has a very wanting, ineffective and deficient communications, media and public relations cell. The questioning time was cut short and not everybody could raise issues they wanted to. Hence, on departure, I informed Little that I would raise what I was denied through my blog site, KIWI PUNDIT. 

Here is what I would have asked, had I been given time to ask. Hope Andrew Little, unlike other MPs, will acknowledge my existence, and Labour office will give credit to expertise of people who show interest in Labour course. The question I did not get to ask:

 “I am new to Labour Party, and hence a new face of diversity. I hope Labour Party will be able to retain me, as I love walking. My speciality is media and communications, but I never heard back from Labour Party for any help, despite many attempts to get their attention. The Party needs to improve on two things, firstly to inculcate diversity and efficiency in its administrative and support office. It has performed miserably, election campaign was very wanting, and an ineffective media and communication let the party down. It is one thing to have good policies (even bad ones), it is quite another to sell them well dressed for the market. Labour Party appears very weak in this field, and the previous leader failed to listen to my caution, at his peril.

Dirty Politics - the book and National Party's strategy of attack politics,  reportedly headed by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater (left) and  revealed by author Nicky Hager (right) is not dead. Despite assurance that Labour has a team looking after this issue, it is the Green Party which is stealing thunder from Labour. No publication or analysis on this is seen from Labour while this blog site, KIWI PUNDIT has presented a five-part series of articles on this issue.
Dirty Politics, how many of you have read, comprehended and appreciated it. National’s smear campaign and attack politics over some years have paid dirt by demise of Labour’s three leaders: Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe. The smear campaign and throwing mud over the years and months, saw some hitting target, and hence the negative perception. No need to re-invent the wheel: KIWI PUNDIT has already done a five –part analysis of this, and is available to Labour Office if they will care and acknowledge that a non-White person can also write. Little informed that Labour Party has a team looking into this, but Greens appear to be stealing the thunder from them. Again, somebody is sleeping on the job.

My question is, with so much highly paid and supposedly celebrated media, communications and public relations team, why did we have such an unfortunate and defeating let down by this department? Do we have credible, efficient and effective people in Labour Office? Why was the campaign ineffective to attract party votes? What is the strategy on Dirty Politics? Why has Labour Party failed to score when Nicky Hagar had placed the ball on the penalty spot? Why is it the Green Party which seems to be capitalising on this, and showing some semblance of being the Opposition? Why has Labour Party failed to effectively use Facebook to its advantage? “[End of my questioning]

NZ Herald is wrong again? Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford addressing the audience and "Chaired" the informal meeting. Herald had named Twyford supporting another leader candidate. Wonder what is the real story.
These questions would themselves have provided answers to a review on performance, which should have come BEFORE the leadership battle. Media seems to be running the administration of Labour party, and they hounded them into putting the cart before the horse. And the Party was weak to succumb to such external forces, which also added to its dismal performance.
Whether I also vote with my feet like other ethnic people will be determined by how Labour Party recognises, acknowledges, and utilises the expertise of somebody honest enough to point out the weaknesses and flaws within.



[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a scholar in media and journalism, with post-graduate honours in communication studies. He runs two blog sites, FIJI PUNDIT and KIWI PUNDIT (www.kiwipundit.blogspot.co.nz) , which give an ethnic slant to stories which a predominantly White mainstream media is unable to deliver.]

Monday, October 13, 2014

Waitakere Diwali: The Unique Event that heralds the comeback of Mayor Len Brown

Waitakere Diwali: The Unique Event that heralds the comeback of Mayor Len Brown

Thakur Ranjit Singh

The spirit of Waitakere Diwali 2014 West Auckland heralds the return of Mayor Len Brown, as the Chief Guest, who will be accorded all the honours a city father and a city head gets and deserves. It is hoped he is forgiven and once again can continue in his job in minding the affairs of the city.

The unique and exceptional Waitakere Diwali will be held at the House of Diwali, The Trusts Stadium, Central Park Drive, Henderson on Saturday 18 December, 2014 from 11 am to 10.30 pm, culminating in a spectacular fire-works display. Entry and parking are free. All welcome to attend, where Auckland Mayor Len Brown is the Chief Guest.

The Official poster for WAITAKERE DIWALI 2014,at TRUSTS STADIUM ON 18 OCTOBER, 2014.


If Auckland Council wishes to use a community organisation “owning” an event, and working in partnership with it to bring festivities in a particular region, in a cost-effective fashion - then Waitakere Diwali fits that bill.

With funding from Auckland Council or its related arms, and sponsors, Waitakere Indian Association (WIA) has been lighting West Auckland for over a decade, where Auckland Council or its predecessor, Waitakere City Council, did not have to directly get involved in Diwali of West Auckland for over a decade. This is because a community organisation, WIA has been efficiently and effectively organising this event annually, with 100 per cent volunteers.

Naveen Prakash, President of Waitakere Indian Association during formal ceremony last year. He is proud of leading a hard working, passionate and dedicated team of volunteers. He also heartily invites all of you to WAITAKERE DIWALI 2014, AT TRUSTS STADIUM ON 18 OCTOBER, 2014.

This is where the uniqueness of Waitakere Diwali comes in. This would be one of the very few Diwali celebration of its size where the actual community and those who feel passionately about the festival actually run and manage this function. As Diwali is basically a Hindu cum Indian festival, these are the people who are in the driver’s seat, managing and organising the whole event. In fact the President of Manukau Indian Association, Veer Khar has eluded to the fact that festivals and events which belongs to a particular community should be empowered by Council and funding agencies to run it.  He said “The problem is that democratic institutions formed by community in each city are being pushed aside by individual owned trusts. “ He further said that Diwali had become a cash cow and seeing the potential, more and more groups are being formed every year to milk money from the occasion.

" Well done, WIA, you deserve more Funding". ...The spirit of Diwali 2014 in Waitakere heralds the return of Mayor LEN BROWN, as the Chief Guest, who will be accorded all the honours a city father and a city head gets and deserves. In the Spirit of Diwali, it is hoped he is forgiven and once again can continue in his job in minding the affairs of the city
The community needs to resist these events being commercialised by those corporate, tin-pot trusts and business organisations whose interests are in promotion, marketing, publicity, public relations and generating revenue. That is exactly the difference in Waitakere Diwali, where the theme is to unite the community, inculcate an atmosphere of diversity and raise awareness of the actual essence of Diwali. This year’s theme is “unity in diversity.”

The second uniqueness of Waitakere Diwali is that the House of Diwali, The Trusts Stadium, happens to be the largest indoor Diwali Festival in New Zealand, hence, it is weather-proof.
A very significant uniqueness is that unlike other festivals around Auckland, WIA’s community-based organisation is fully-run by volunteers. Unlike other corporate or council organised Diwali events, WIA does not have any paid officials managing this event. In Council events, people on six-figure salary may be the paid officials to organise something that Waitakere is blessed free by its community-based organisers.

Part of Waitakere Indian Association (WIA) team which organised the very successful and theme-oriented event. This year's theme is : UNITY IN DIVERSITY. None of them are paid officials-all are volunteers who have passion towards their community.

As a community organisation, WIA is appreciative of religious, cultural, traditional decorum, demeanour and sensitivity of the event. Hence WIA ensures that tradition of Diwali theme will not erode under this community-organised event. Reports have been received from various Diwali events of dancers shaking their bums, half naked performing under the name of Diwali. Waitakere Diwali has strict rules about dress code and other issues safeguarding sanctity and reverence of Diwali.

The final uniqueness is related with West being the best. After the controversy that Mayor Len Brown was embroiled in recently, it is very befitting that an Indian organisation has invited Mayor to officiate as Chief Guest in a solemn festival that, among other things, celebrate overcoming of evil by good deeds, lighting the inner self and embracing all in a forgiving mode of brotherhood. It is significant, that the original writer of the Hindu epic Ramayan was Ratnakar Dacoit, a Daku, a common robber, who saw the light, repented, changed a leaf in life, embraced goodness and was forgiven. And he ended up writing this holy epic, Ramayan.

Mayor Len Brown , lighting the Diya ( holy candle) at previous Waitakere Diwali celebration at Trusts Stadium, when previously he was the Chief Guest. Assisting him, on his left is Pundit Ami Chand,  the Board member responsible for Ethnic Affairs at Whau Local Board. based in New Lynn, Auckland.
In a similar spirit, Diwali 2014 in Waitakere heralds the return of Mayor Len Brown, as the Chief Guest, who will be accorded all the honours a city father and a city head gets and deserves. It is hoped he is forgiven and once again can continue in his job in minding the affairs of the city, without being a victim of a well-organised conspiracy.  (KIWI PUNDIT (www.kiwipundit.blogspot.co.nz) will cover this issue under separate cover.)

In this spirit of goodwill and forgiveness, all are invited to Waitakere Diwali at Trusts Stadium, the largest indoor Diwali in Australasia, organised by volunteers working free for the community, where the event is organised by the community for all people of New Zealand. Apart from authentic food and craft stalls, the highlights are indoor cricket, Caribbean Steel Band and non-Indian students of Waitakere College, speaking about Diwali. The other highlight includes Ram Lila, tales of Lord Ram, leading to the reason for Diwali. As usual, there would also be assortment of cultural and Bollywood items that will keep you and your family busy and occupied.

The team from ISKCON in their traditional costumes in our past Waitakere Diwali, added the flavour to the solemn theme and sanctity of Diwali (unfortunately, generally missing from commercialized Diwali events.)

Remember, Waitakere Diwali at Trusts Stadium, Central Park Drive, Henderson, Auckland on Saturday 18 October, 2014 from 11am to 10.30 pm, culminating in spectacular fireworks display. All free and all welcome to an event, organised by the community for the community.

Waitakere Diwali on Saturday 18 October, 2014.



[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a scholar in media and journalism, with post-graduate honours in communication studies. He runs two blog sites, FIJI PUNDIT and KIWI PUNDIT, which give an ethnic slant of stories which a predominantly White Main Stream media is unable to deliver. Stories published here are those that are not covered by other commercial or Indian media]

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shooting the messenger: Are police impartial in searching Hagar, or is there another storm in Remuera “Teapot”?

Shooting the messenger: Are police impartial in searching Hagar, or is there another storm in Remuera “Teapot”?

Thakur Ranjit Singh, as KIWI PUNDIT


A reader writes in NZ Herald: I see that police were ordered to search Nicky Hager’s home and files. Are they now going to be ordered to search Cameron Slater’s home and files? Are they going to search Judith Collins’ home and office for incriminating evidence? If justice is to be done then all the parties must be treated the same way.

David Parker, the Acting Labour leader quips: “While we respect the police's independence, we are concerned that an arm of the state appears to be being used against Mr Hager while nothing appears to be being done about the wrongdoing he exposed.”

Who say “Dirty Politics” is a left-wing conspiracy? Does not it appear to be a right-wing tool?

Cameron Slater (left) and Nicky Hager, with his book Dirty Politics which reveals wrong-doing and mischief-making emanating from Prime Minister's and some Cabinet Minister's Office in Beehive. Animal Farm? Are Police treating some as more equal than the others? Why selective enforcement of law? Dirty Politics?

So, it appears Nicky Hagar’s efforts in compiling Dirty Politics has not gone in vain. He had cautioned us of dirty politics. And it seems he is the first victim of it within weeks of the election.

The chapter “Shooting the Messenger” in a sequel to Dirty Politics may read as follows:

“The rookie Minster of Police, Honourable Michael Woodhouse, National list MP for Dunedin North, was seen as easy meat within weeks of Cabinet been appointed. He was told of an arthritis attack on Police, and there were underhand pressures from the hounds who were named in the original book. Cameron Slater and David Farrar, who Newstalk ZB Radio still use as commentators, despite allegations, especially regarding “Cash for Comments” in Dirty Politics . The duo, used their position to pressure the new police minister to provide some arthritis medicinal doze to a lethargic police in nicking Hagar. The now- backbencher Crusher Judith Collins, as former police minister, pulled a few strings she still had in her hands to make sure the whistle of the whistle-blower was silenced. Hence a squad was dispatched for a thorough hunting expedition on Hagar’s Wellington home, naming him, NOT as a suspect, but as a witness…”

Those who have read about wheeling and dealing emanating from top cabinet positions and directed from Prime Minister’s Office, would not be surprised at what is hypothesized above. Labour’s Acting Leader, David Parker, who now appears to have a better Press Secretary  (than Cunliffe),  quipped: "While we respect the police's independence, we are concerned that an arm of the state appears to be being used against Mr Hager while nothing appears to be being done about the wrongdoing he exposed.” That is exactly the case where an analogy is made with John Bank’s in-famous Remuera “teapot tape” saga, where police were seen to be harassing the journalist at behest of Key. Acting Labour Leader was right is issuing a caution to police: “Nicky Hager was doing what the fourth estate ought to do and police need to take care to protect his rights and to avoid the appearance of intimidating the media."

What? Dirty Politics? It is bloody left-wing conspiracy, with fictitious characters.

Parker was right in calling the police to pay similar attention to investigating some of the issues the book had uncovered. In the present case, there is an appearance that they are seen to be pursuing a political agenda whilst not paying due attention to dirty tricks, mischief and unethical actions, bordering on illegal activities, alleged as a result of what Hager uncovered in Dirty Politics. Among others, this included any potential illegality in the accessing of Labour's website and using that information to undermine Labour Party. The other one is attempts to undermine then Serious Fraud Office head Adam Feely.

Mr Parker rightly said that Dirty Politics had revealed serious alleged wrongdoings and issues on whether former Justice Minister Judith Collins was involved in undermining the Serious Fraud Office and whether the PM's Office was involved in misuse of power in its oversight of Official Information Act requests.

It appears communications and media cell of Labour Party took a turn for the better for Acting Leader, who is able to come out emphatically on issues that could have highlighted misgivings of Government unearthed by Hagar. He cautioned police to take proper steps to protect journalistic privilege of those who are doing proper job to be a watchdog of democracy.

That is where, as a First World Democracy, New Zealand needs to be wary of the brand of media which degenerates it as mere lapdogs of government in power. That is what Dirty Politics tried to warn.

And that is where Labour Party failed miserably to score from the penalty spot, and in turn have been scoring own goals. Even now they appear to have a blind spot for a well-oiled communications and media department.

If Matt McCarten has survived Labour’s eclipse, will somebody please communicate to him the importance of COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, and COMMUNICATION.