The Cabinet Office, Honours Unit has released the list of names of the New Zealand New Year Honours List 2019 to be honoured for their service to different sectors of New Zealand society as a part of the New Zealand Royal Honours.

The New Year list has named three Kiwi-Indians for their services to the Kiwi-Indian and Asian communities over the years in New Zealand.

Ruxmani Vanmali Kasanji is named as Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for her services to the Indian community, Vrinder Kumar Aggarwal, JP with The Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for his services to the Asian Community and Mr Bhikhu Bhana of NZICA with The Queen’s Service Medal for his services to the Indian community and sports.

The Indian Weekender congratulates the Kiwi-Indians for achieving these honours.

Mrs Ruxmani Vanmali Kasanji: MNZM
For services to the Indian community

Mrs Ruxmani Kasanji became the first Headmistress of the Wellington Indian Association (WIA) Gujarati Language School for Children in 1969, managing a staff of nine voluntary teachers.

Mrs Kasanji taught Gujarati on a weekly basis between 1958 and 1973 with an annual roll of around 175 to 200 students aged five to 13 years. She played a crucial role in the establishment of the Indian Women’s Committee, known as Mahila Samaj, at the WIA.
This committee focused on women’s welfare and fundraising, and she was Secretary from 1971 until 1988. She was made a Life Member of WIA in 1994, one of only two women in the WIA’s history to receive this recognition. She has been a member of the Indian Senior Citizens Group since 2015. She helped establish Yoga in Daily Life Society in Wellington in 1993 and served on the Board from 1996 to 2010. She was President in the mid-1990s and Vice President from 2012 to 2015.

She was a member of the Indian Community Advisory Group of Te Papa Tongarewa for the ‘Aainaa’ exhibition and has continued as an Indian community advisor for the museum until the present. Mrs Kasanji has donated personal objects to the museum for Indian cultural collections and was featured in the ‘Passports’ exhibition.

Mr Virinder Kumar Aggarwal, JP: QSM
For services to Asian communities

Mr Virinder Aggarwal was a founding member of the Asian Network Inc in 2002, served on the Executive Committee, and has been Chairperson for six years.

The Asian Network provides a platform to assist Asian communities in Auckland by identifying and responding to the needs of these communities through information sharing, training opportunities, and submissions to central and local government.

Under Mr Aggarwal’s leadership, the Network co-hosted two International Asian Health Conferences in collaboration with the University of Auckland’s Centre for Asian Health Research and Evaluation and established an annual Asian Forum focusing on health and wellbeing.

He has edited the Network’s monthly newsletter and been on the Editorial Advisory Board for the Migrant News bimonthly newspaper. He has represented the Indian community on the Older People’s Advisory Group since 2005. He has been the founder, President and remains a current member of the Global Organisation for Persons of Indian Origin (West) branch since 2008. He has led fundraising committees for the Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust since 1996.

He was Migrant Representative to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs from 2005 to 2011 and has been an Executive Committee member of Migrant Support Services. Mr Aggarwal chaired the working committee of Shakti Family Settlement and Social Services from 2000 to 2012.

Bhikhu Bhana: QSM
For services to the Indian community and sport

Mr Bhikhu Bhana has been involved with the New Zealand Indian Central Association for more than 40 years and has been President since 2016, having held other offices previously within the organisation.

Mr Bhana has been a member of the Pukekohe Indian Association for 25 years and has held the roles of Secretary and President. As President, he played a key role in revitalising the organisation and helped instigate events with other Indian groups in the region.

He has organised a Diwali Festival event at the Pukekohe Arts and Cultural Centre. He has played a key role in the facilitation of the MOKKA Photo Exhibition showcasing 125 years of Indians living in New Zealand at museums throughout the country. With a background as a representative player of cricket and hockey for Canterbury, he has been involved with sports administration through the Christchurch and Pukekohe Indian Sports Clubs.

He was the Counties Manukau Hockey Association delegate to the New Zealand Hockey Association from 1999 to 2002. Mr Bhana has been Director of the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions since 2014 and was involved with the New Zealand Steel Credit Union Board on a voluntary basis for 17 years.