Czech Professor Dr Kamil V. Zvelebil once said, “There is no doubt that the culture of the Tamils belongs to the great and immortal treasures of the world's civilisation.”

And the Kiwi-Tamil diaspora in New Zealand has been doing its bit to preserve the rich Tamil culture and heritage in Aotearoa. And that explains that there are various Tamil associations across NZ in cities such as Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin, Taranaki and  Blenheim. There are more than 15 associations that cater to around 5000 strong Tamil community members in NZ.

In this fifteenth part of our series on Indian cultural associations in NZ, we look at Tamil Society Waikato (TSW) -  a nonprofit organisation founded in 1989 to promote the Tamil language, culture and literature.

Giving details about the association, which has been in existence for over three decades, its president Srinivasan Jaganathan says, “It was started with just nine families in 1989 and had been relentlessly working to promote Tamil language, culture and literature. Today, we have over 200 members. And nearly 500 people attend our bigger events.”

TSW is also working with multicultural associations and has recently started initiatives to bring the Maori community and Tamil community for better understanding of each other’s cultural values to bring harmony to society.

Explaining TSW’s body of work, Jaganathan says, “We run weekly Tamil language classes during the weekends. We also endeavour to promote music and celebrate Tamil cultural festivals like Pongal, Tamil New year, and arts festivals. We also promote Tamil ethnic foods from Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore. We want our new generations to know our roots and respect other cultures." 

TSW did a Kari Virunthu (Food festival) last year where more than 500 people were served at the table. They also did Deepavali Arts and Food festival in Hamilton Gardens in 2020, where many Indian associations in Hamilton participated.

TSW is a member association of the Aotearoa New Zealand Federation of Tamil Sangams (ANTS) and celebrated Pongal in the parliament. TSW actively participated in the Covid vaccination program, along with the Ministry of Health, for translating Covid information into the Tamil language and brought doctors to advise the people in Tamil on how to survive. And last week, ANTS and member association took part in Tamil Maori hui in Rotorua.

On a parting note, Jaganathan revealed that they intend to build a strong network to help the Tamil community to achieve well in business, technology, and sports and do more in physical and mental health and wellbeing. “We would like to work with the Government and other cultural organisations for the betterment of Tamil and New Zealand communities," he signs off.