More than 800 people turned up at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre in Auckland on Saturday, August 10, to attend and celebrate India Independence Day organised by the Indian Diaspora of Auckland.

The event also took the opportunity to introduce the newly appointed High Commissioner of India to New Zealand, Muktesh Pardeshi and his wife Rakhi Pardeshi, to the Indian community.

The event commenced with a celebratory speech by the organisers followed by a patriotic song by the senior members of the community.

The Hon Consul of India Bhav Dhillon welcomed and introduced the Mr and Mrs Pardeshi to the audience, which was followed by hoisting of the Indian flag. The event hall then echoed with Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata ki Jai as the community cheered the celebration of India’s 73rd Independence Day.

Dignitaries present at the event were Labour Party MPs Michael Wood and Priyanca Radhakrishnan who also conveyed the message from Minister of Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa who could not be present at the event.

National List MPs Kanwaljit Bakshi and Dr Parmjeet Parmar then addressed the members present at the event.

The event was another feather in the cap of the Indian diaspora of Auckland who in the last few years have come together as one community in celebrating Indian national events in Auckland city.

Speaking at the event, High Commissioner Mr Pardeshi acknowledged the work of the Indian Diaspora group in New Zealand and everyone associated to the event for bringing the community together and celebrating it.

Mr Pardeshi also said that the diaspora should be proud of its heritage, and it's home country India- as it’s the largest democracy in the world and 1.3 billion people exercising their democratic rights every five years, that is one of the biggest achievements of India, as a country.

Mr Pardeshi, counting India’s achievement in just over seven decades, added that besides progressing to make India as a five trillion economy in the next few years, India is proud of its diversity and unity – the way it was envisioned in the Constitution almost seven decades ago.

“The government is keen on connecting with its diaspora present all around the world,” Mr Pardeshi added.

Mr Pardeshi congratulated the diaspora who have been living in the country for over 100 years and counts to over 200,000 now and have made their diaspora proud through their hard work and success.

Speaking about his previous appointments, Mr Pardeshi said that he was connected with the Kiwi-Indian diaspora in a way between 2010 and 2016 as he was served as the Chief Passport Officer during this time.

“Working as the Chief Passport Officer for six years, I know the issues that non-residential Indians suffer and I will use my experience to make the most of this time here in New Zealand and help my Indian diaspora living here,” Mr Pardeshi added.

Recollecting his memories from this country, Mr Pardeshi mentioned that he travelled to New Zealand on three occasions between 2002 and 2004 when he served as the Deputy Director for Pacific Island Forum countries for the Ministry of External Affairs in the Government of India.

Mr Pardeshi thanked the diaspora and the New Zealand government for giving him a grand welcome in the country and said he had been elated with the love he has received in the last ten days.

After his speech that was received with a wave of thunderous applauds the programme continued with a number of dance performances by different dance groups who performed both traditional Indian classical dances and cinematic fusion dance and songs.