The ever-growing relations between New Zealand and India got a further boost during the last couple of weeks with several high-level exchanges, diplomatic and cultural, between the two countries at different bilateral and multilateral platforms. 

Placed at the highest level was a Ministerial-interaction between New Zealand’s Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O’Connor, and India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal in Bangkok on the sidelines of the ongoing 7th RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) Ministerial Meeting. 

Sharing the photo of the meeting on social media, Mr O’Connor indicated that he had plans to visit India on a bilateral visit later in 2019. 

“A privilege to sit down with Minister Piyush Goyal from #India tonight to talk through where we are at in #RCEP. I am looking forward to visiting India later this year to continue growing our important relationship,” Minister O’Connor posted on Twitter on Tuesday, September 10. 

New Zealand and India are engaged in the multinational proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its six FTA partners (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).

A public commitment of a much needed bilateral visit by the Trade and Export Growth Minister of New Zealand augurs well for the prospect of closing a trade agreement between both the countries. 

Growing bonhomie: Indian naval chief visits NZ after a gap of nine years 

Indian Navy’s Commander in Chief Admiral Karambir Singh was in the country, after a gap on nine-year for a two-day visit between September 5-6. 

Admiral Singh was in the region as a part of a two-nation trip to Australia and New Zealand. 

During his New Zealand trip, Admiral Singh visited Wellington and Auckland, meeting with top-level Naval and diplomatic officials of New Zealand and interacting with members of Kiwi-Indian community. 

In Wellington, the office of the Indian High Commission hosted Admiral Singh in a reception on Thursday, September 5 that was well attended by several high ranking naval and diplomatic officials. 

In Auckland, Admiral Singh visited New Zealand’s biggest Davenport Naval Base and was given a tour of the naval base. 

Admiral Singh also paid a visit to Eden Park - New Zealand’s national stadium, and was given a tour of the iconic Auckland building and interacted with stadium officials and leaders of the Kiwi-Indian community about how sports, particularly cricket, was acting as a bridge between the two countries. 

In a notable gesture, the Eden Park stadium welcomed Admiral Singh by writing a culturally appropriate greeting on its giant full-screen, “New Zealand me Aapka Swagat Hai Admiral Karambeer Singh.”

Parliament hosts Indian government officials   

Senior Indian government officials visiting Australia and New Zealand as a part of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG)’s India Advanced Leadership Program (IALP) were hosted in NZ parliament on Monday, September 2. 

The reception was attended among others by the High Commissioner of India Muktesh Pardeshi, the former Governor-General and the Kiwi-Indian Hall of Fame inductee Sir Anand Satyanand and National Party MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar who hosted the Indian officers. 

Speaking on occasion, Sir Anand touched on several aspects that connected the two countries, including commonwealth, cricket, trade and the Kiwi-Indian diaspora. 

Notably, Sir Anand enlightened the audiences present on occasion with an exciting foray into the deep history of NZ-India bilateral relationship, with possible touchpoints as old as the 14th century. 

Pointing toward one of the most prized artefacts of the famous Tepapa Museum (Wellington) – a Tamil Bell – which was first found in 1836 up North, Sir Anand threw light about the glorious sea-faring attributes of Tamils and shared some suggestions out in public domain that a Tamil ship may have come as far as New Zealand in the 14th century.

Meanwhile, the group of twenty-something officials will join more than 140 ANZSOG IALP alumni in senior positions within India’s public services – from the central government to a large number of the states. 

ANZSOG’s India Advanced Leadership Program has previously brought Indian delegates to Australia, but this is the first time New Zealand was included in the program, providing an opportunity to build valuable connections between the three nations.

Kiwi-Indian singer Aradhna’s first-ever India concert enthrals music lovers 

The renowned New Zealander of Samoan and Indian descent, Aaradhna Jayantilal Patel, popularly known as Aradhna, was recently in New Delhi for her first-ever India concert showcasing New Zealand’s multiculturalism along with enthralling music lovers. 

She also performed at the much talked about multi-embassy cultural gala “Namaste Pacific” hosted at the premises of New Zealand High Commission to India in New Delhi. 

Aaradhna Patel, better known as ‘Aaradhna’ is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed young singer-songwriters. With four individual albums to her credit, the R&B and soul artist has been in the music industry since 2006, when she released her debut album at the age of 19. 

Aaradhna, who was in India with her father, and her brother and sister---who are part of her band as backing vocals---spent some time in the village of Navsari, Gujarat, seeing for herself the places and people she had heard about all her growing-up years.