Takanini Gurudwara's multimillion-dollar sports complex in South Auckland, which was ready since last year, has been officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over the weekend.
The colourful event held on Sunday, March 21, witnessed PM Ardern arrive with several cabinet Ministers and caucus colleagues, including Kiwi-Indian MPs Priyanca Radhakrishnan (Minister for Ethnic Communities) and Dr Gaurav Sharma, along with Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff, Deputy Commissioner New Zealand Police Wally Haumaha and Hon Consul of India Bhav Dhillon.
For many in the community and beyond, who have been closely following the progress of this world-class sporting facility for the last couple of years, this formal inauguration ceremony was a long-awaited event after the disruptions brought by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
And the executive committee of the Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand, along with a vast team of volunteers, had fully lived up to the expectations by delivering a memorable inauguration event, which also saw tens of thousands of members of the community flocking to enjoy the display of several traditional and modern sports in the precinct of Gurudwara as a part of the official inauguration ceremony.
Named as 'NZ Sikh Sports Complex- Takanini,' the sporting facility will be available to everyone in New Zealand regardless of ethnicity – a fact not only reiterated by the Spokesperson of Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand – but also repeatedly told by all high-profile dignitaries speaking from the dais at the inauguration ceremony including Prime Minister Ardern and Mayor Goff.
PM Ardern, Mayor Goff and other dignitaries were first taken inside the Gurudwara Sahib to offer prayers and also address the members of the community present inside the Gurudwara before officially being escorted to the main stage in front of the traditional Kabaddi – a touch game that has become increasingly popular in New Zealand in recent years.
Notably, a local Maori girl's Kabaddi team of New Zealand have also travelled to India recently to participate in international Kabaddi tournaments.
Speaking on occasion, Prime Minister Ardern acknowledged the contribution of the Sikh Community led by the Supreme Sikh Society New Zealand in rendering food and other services to the wider communities during different lockdowns and distributing about a hundred thousand food bags.
"The role that you have played as a community has been immense. When I first saw images of the work that was being done to provide food to the wider members of the Auckland community and feeling like what I was seeing from the Sikh community was the team of five million in action," Ardern said.
For that endeavour, the SSSNZ received several accolades and certificates from the High Commission of India in Wellington, Counties Manukau South Police, Papakura Local Board, Mayor of Auckland, Office of Ethnic Communities, and the NZ Food Hero Award 2020 under people's choice category.
The inauguration ceremony mega event was spread over the course of three days, starting from Friday, March 19 and culminating on Sunday, March 21, with several cultural and sports activities including, Kabaddi, football, hockey, volleyball, netball, basketball, tug of war, 100m sprints and cricket speed gun competitions.
Among other prominent dignitaries who attended the event were the Leader of Opposition National Party's Judith Collins, who came along with her caucus colleagues, including MPs from Port Waikato and Takanini, along with former Kiwi-Indian MPs and current members of Party List Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Dr Parmjeet Parmar, CEO of Sport New Zealand Raelene Castle, NZ Football President Johanna Wood, CEO Andrew Pragnell and Jodi Tong, along with members of local Council.
The vision behind the mega sports centre
The Indian Weekender had been regularly covering the progress of the iconic sports facility, which holds the unique recognition of being the largest such sports facility owned and managed by any Sikh Gurudwara all around the world.
Sharing the vision behind this world-class multi-sport facility, Daljit Singh, Spokesperson of Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand, told the Indian Weekender in a detailed interview in late 2019, “This [multi-sports centre] has been a long-held dream since last 10-15 years when the Supreme Sikh Society first got the land in South Auckland.”
“We have been clear from the very beginning of this Gurudwara that we need to come up with a major sports facility not only to promote sports and good health among our youths from the wider Kiwi-Indian community.”
“But also because sports is a great unifier of people helping in cutting our cultural differences,” Mr Singh had then told the Indian Weekender.
With the formal inauguration ceremony held last Sunday, that long-held dream clearly seems to have realised.
More about NZ Sikh Sports Complex
- The sports complex comprises a total of seven different sports’ turf including soccer, hockey, athletics track, volleyball, basketball, cricket and kabaddi, which are further vetted by the highest professional regulatory bodies of each sport in the country.
- The soccer pitch is fully approved by FIFA [the highest international governing body for football].
- The turfs and pitches for other games are also being constructed under the strict guidelines of respective sporting authorities to ensure that facilities comply with the highest levels of professional standards.
- The entire complex has been fitted with seven floodlights to facilitate sporting fixtures at the night.
- Each floodlight is also fitted with an inbuilt sound system so that game organisers will not have to arrange for separate microphones or a public address (PA) system.