The New Year Honours List that was announced by the government on December 31, 2019, has seen three Kiwi Indians included in the list for their achievements and services to the country. The three Kiwi Indians named in the list are:
-Jennifer Sabina Khan-Janif, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM), for services to refugee and migrant communities
-Associate Professor Dr Humaira Moeed, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit MNZM), for services to science education and the community, and,
-Harjit Singh, Queens Service Medal (QSM) for services to the Indian community and seniors
Dr Humaira (Azra) Moeed, MNZM
Senior Lecturer for School of Education at Victoria University of Wellington, Dr Humaira, better known as Azra Moeed, is a renowned and multiple award-winning teacher who has been involved in science education for most of her life.
Dr Moeed is a proud Indian, born in Uttar Pradesh, India, and has lived in New Zealand for 44 years. Her husband Dr Abdul Moeed has lived in the country for 50 years, is a scientist working for Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MORST) as a senior policy analyst. The couple’s daughter is a medical specialist in New Zealand.
Dr Moeed started her Kiwi journey as a primary school teacher in Lower Hutt and Play Centre Supervisor given her experience as a teacher educator back from India. After a few years, she became a full-time teacher of science and biology at Upper Hutt College later serving as Head of Department of science and then senior lecturer position at Wellington College of Education in 2000.
She gained her PhD in science education in 2010, and during the same period, she was transferred over as a Senior Lecturer in Faculty of Education at Victoria University of Wellington.
In this 45-year career as a teacher, she received numerous accolades both from her students, their parents and her peers. She considers her passion to also be a constant learner the key behind her success and recognitions in her teacher’s journey.
“A highlight of my teaching career is summed up by a 14- year old student who said, ‘Miss I have never not wanted to come to your class,’ Dr Moeed told The Indian Weekender.
Dr Azra has been involved in the organisation of national conferences, has been a member of the Wellington region Science Fair judging panel and contributes to the educational programmes at the Wellington Zoo and the Allan Wilson Centre of Molecular Evolution.
She has organised a Festival of Science, Science Challenges for Year 10 students, supported BP Technology challenge and established an environmental group for forest restoration. Dr Moeed was awarded an Excellence in Teaching award in 1996 and the Royal Society Science Teacher Fellowship in 1999., the Victoria University Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014, Ako Aotearoa National Tertiary Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016 and she was one of the judges at the inaugural insTED conference in 2017.
“As a university lecturer, I do research that matters because it deals with current issues in science education. My research is embedded in the classroom and provides a link between teacher education and science teaching in schools. One of the inspirations for my research has been the students I teach and the classrooms where I conduct my research.
“I have had the privilege to work with some of the best science teachers in New Zealand and one of the important aspects of my job is that my research informs my teaching and it is good to see my ideas and research findings being implemented in the classrooms by the student teachers I have had the opportunity to educate,” Dr Moeed added.
Dr Moeed regards her success as a teacher because she cares about the learner and their learning.
“Caring about the learner means having strong, respectful and professional relationships with the students, which includes caring about their physical, social, emotional and mental wellbeing. Caring about their learning means we plan well, teach well, assess well, and challenge the students to think,” Dr Moeed added.
Speaking about the honour by NZ government, MNZM, Dr Moeed says this recognition makes her feel humble.
“This one makes me feel very humble as it is a recognition that I have made a contribution to education in this very lovely country that has been my home for twice as long as India where I was born. I feel the country has given me opportunities to learn and grow and very rewarding to think I have given something back,” Dr Moeed said.
Jennifer Sabina Khan-Janif, MNZM
Jennifer Khan-Janif co-founded the Umma Trust in 2003, which initially undertook development work in Iraq, and which diversified in 2008 to provide social services and support for refugee and migrant communities, particularly economically and socially disadvantaged Muslim women, children and families in the Auckland region.
Mrs Khan-Janif, a fourth-generation Fiji born Indian migrated to New Zealand in 1989 and joined the public sector in 1990 and since has worked in various roles with a focus on supporting community development, identity, ethnic affairs and early intervention programmes on positive parenting and family violence. Mrs Khan-Janif is also a poet and creative arts writer who finds her inspirations from migration stories and experiences of her ancestors from Afghanistan, British-India, Guyana and the Solomon Islands.
Mrs Khan-Janif regards her parents as her role model as humanitarians who are committed to social justice and race relations.
"My parents are from humble sugarcane farming background, and I grew in a household which was culturally and religiously diverse. My father is of Pathan ancestry, and my mother mixed ethnic Indian and Melanesian heritage- so the values of service, volunteering and giving back to the community was inculcated in me right from my childhood.
Mrs Khan-Janif is a Justice of Peace appointed in 1998 and has served on the Boards of Umma Trust, Shakti Community Council, Fiji Women's Group, and is currently on the Advisory Group for the University of Auckland's Centre for Research for Asian and Ethnic Minorities. She was elected to the Board of the Africa New Zealand Business Council, to help promote African business opportunities with New Zealand companies and vice versa.
Jennifer Khan-Janif (front row- second from left)
"By working alongside former refugee communities for the past three decades, I have watched intergenerational advancement in the areas of leadership development, participation in civic life, academic achievement and excelling in their professional careers," Mrs Khan-Janif said.
"This has enabled in particular for the youth to give back to their communities and participate in the wider community which highlights the values seen in collective cultures," she added.
Mrs Khan-Janif has presented academic papers on community development, family violence and youth development at conferences in New Zealand and internationally. She works as a Senior Advisor for the Ministry of Social Development's E Tu Whanau programme, where she holds responsibilities in the Asian, Migrant and Refugee Communities portfolio, focusing on projects addressing the elimination of all forms of violence.
"I am humbled and honoured to have received the New Zealand Order of Merit. It is a privilege to be categorized amongst fellow New Zealanders who are doing fantastic working across Aotearoa New Zealand.
"This award would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of many people. My award is a collective success, and I share this with them all," Mrs Khan-Janif said.
Harjit Singh, QSM
Harjit Singh has contributed to the Sikh and broader communities in Auckland since 2007. Mr Singh has volunteered with a range of community organisations. He became involved with Age Concern Counties Manukau in 2008 as a member of the accredited visiting services team and was appointed to the Board in 2013.
He is currently Deputy Chair of the Manakau East Council of Social Services under the Age Concern Counties Manukau. He is an English home tutor with English Language Partners South Auckland, through which he teaches migrants with limited English language skills voluntarily.
He has been involved with New Zealand Guru Ravidas Sabha for the past 11 years. He is also involved with the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), the Auckland Sikh Society, the Punjabi Cultural Society, the Manakau Indian Association, and the New Zealand Indian Central Association.
He has been an ethnic consultant with the Howick local board, served as the Chair of the Indian Kiwi Positive Ageing Group. He is also a White Ribbon Ambassador and fundraises for the Cancer Society and the Heart Foundation.