The Kiwi Punjabi Awards 2019 was held in Auckland on Saturday, November 23 recognised five Kiwi Punjabis in New Zealand for their contributions in different fields and sectors of the community.

Hosted by New Zealand Punjabi Multimedia Trust, the ceremony was to acknowledge the work of individuals and an organisation for making a difference in the community.

The dignitaries present at the event were Minister of Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa, Hon Consul of India Bhav Dhillon, High Commissioner of Pakistan in NZ Dr Abdul Malik and other community leaders.

The event which was also dedicated to Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th birth anniversary officially released a postal stamp of Guru Nanak by the Govt of New Zealand. Unveiling the historic stamp were Minister of Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa, Hon Consul of India in Auckland Bhav Dhillon, Avatar Singh from Lotus and NZ Punjabi Multimedia Trust members.

The first award of the night was the Honorary Punjabi Award presented to Arwinder Kaur who was born in a robust Tongan-European background and got baptised by taking Amrit and receiving five Ks of Sikhism at Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara. Ms Kaur also learnt to speak in Punjabi and Hindi languages, cook Indian food, learned to play the musical instrument- harmonium and hopes to inspire more people and spread the teachings of Sikhism.

The second award of the night, Community Award was presented to Avtar Taraksheel for his contributions to the community here in New Zealand and Punjab. Mr Taraksheel helped set up libraries in Punjab and provided with books and Punjabi literature to hundreds of schools in Punjab.

Constable Mandeep Kaur Sidhu was awarded ‘Woman of the Year’, who became the first Indian born female police officer in New Zealand Police in 2004 and continues to be the inspiration to hundreds in the community.

Satta Vairowalia was presented with the Art & Culture Award for his contributions to Punjabi music. Mr Vairowalia is a Kiwi Punjabi singer, and award-winning lyricist who also won the PTC Music Award for the Best Song ‘Bhajjo Veero Ve’.

Marshal Walia

The Organisation of the Year award was presented to Bay of Plenty Club; the Club has strived to involve and develop young children interested in sports, encourage to engage in cultural learning etc. The Club offers training in sports activities such as hockey, soccer, volleyball, kabaddi, swimming, and cultural events etc.

Pinky Lal

A special acknowledgement was made to Marshal Walia, Pinky Lal and Pakistan Association of NZ. Marshal Walia was the only Indian to receive the Best Community and Sustainability Volunteer Award from Mangere Otahuhu area in 2019 and Pinky Lal as the First Indian Qualified Ambulance Officer with St John in South Island.