The news of elevation of local Auckland MP Michael Wood as a cabinet minister in the new government has been received with much delight and rejoice within the Kiwi-Indian community.
Undoubtedly, Wood who is MP for Mt Roskill – an area that holds the reputation of being the most ethnically diverse electorate of New Zealand with almost 40 per cent voters having been born overseas - is one of the great friends of the Kiwi-Indian community, along with other ethnic migrant minority communities.
His connection, relative easy accessibility, along with a passion to support the members of the Kiwi-Indian community has made him immensely popular in a short span of time, not only within Auckland’s Indian community but also in rest of New Zealand.
Wood was first elected to Parliament at the 2016 Mt Roskill by-election after it was vacated by former Labour MP Phil Goff who had nurtured the electorate for more than two decades by maintaining a personal connection with residents and their representative associations within the area.
Since then Wood has not only filled into Goff’s shoes but also continued with his style of politics with an emphasis on personal rapport and connections with people, which has been generously rewarded by the voters in successive elections by sending him back to Parliament in 2017 & 2020 election.
Many community leaders and representatives of major community organisations and associations have echoed similar sentiments with the Indian Weekender.
Jeet Suchdev of Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust told the Indian Weekender that he had known Wood for a number of years right from his days in Puketapapa local board and his hard work in connecting with people and growing in politics.
“Over the years Wood has remained easily accessible and a great friend of our Trust at all times,” Suchdev said.
Jeet Suchdev of Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust
“We deal with a number of cases related to people in distress which often requires urgent attention from the government and Wood has always ensured to remain connected,” Suchdev said.
Narendra Bhana, President of Auckland Indian Association – one of the oldest Indian community organisations in New Zealand said, “Michel Wood has been closely connected to vibrant and growing ethnic communities in New Zealand.
Narendra Bhana, President of Auckland Indian Association Inc.
He has been very supportive and more importantly a very good friend of the Auckland Indian Association Inc.”
“We are happy for him to become a Minister of Transport and we wish him all the best for his journey ahead,” Bhana said.
Vai Ravindran of Auckland Tamil Association – a Tamil community organisation which has recognised its special connection with Wood by honouring with a special title of “Tamil – Selvan” meaning “Son of Tamil” in 2018 also expressed rejoice on his elevation as a Cabinet Minister.
President of Auckland Tamil Association, Vai Ravindran with Michael Wood
“It is a great pride and honour for our “Tamil -Selvan” to be elevated as Cabinet Minister. We are confident that he will do well for the community and for the entire country,” Ravindran said.
Wood was re-elected to Parliament in 2017 and became Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities and became Chair of the Finance & Expenditure Select Committee. He became Senior Whip in mid-2019.
There is an anticipation that his new portfolio of Minister of Transport will soar expectations within wider communities for quick and decisive action on Auckland’s public transport woes.
Wood is a self-avowed champion of public transport (he and his family are an avid public transport user) and as local MP for Mt Roskill, which sits at the heart of the much-hyped and hugely anticipated light rail project, it is expected that the project might get off sooner than later.
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