Thousands of members of the Sikh community descended on Papakura’s Bruce Pulman Park over the weekend for New Zealand’s first-ever Sikh Games.

Papakura Local Board chair Brent Catchpole says more than 1500 athletes in 128 teams from across the country and Australia, participated in more than a dozen sporting competitions and cultural programmes.

“I do not pretend to understand kabaddi, but It’s great fun to watch, and plenty of people were more than happy to explain what was going on, but just the sight of the park being so well-used was brilliant.

“We are lucky to have a facility like Bruce Pulman in Papakura. There are not too many areas that could have hosted an event of this size.”

He said Papakura locals identify diversity as one of the four pillars of their community. “Given the importance of the Sikh community in Papakura and Takanini, it’s wonderful to see the diversity locals value, so visible.”

Games Manager Daljit Singh Sidhu says the event was one of the biggest for the Sikh community in New Zealand.

The onus was on participation, with athletes able to register in different competitions, including football, hockey, volleyball, tug-of-war, basketball, netball, sprints and other athletic races, but also in traditional cultural events such as gatka, kabaddi, bhangra and gidda.

Organisers estimate more than 20,000 people attended over the two days of the festival.