“I will be keeping a close eye on these.” The National Party’s long list of promises for migrants, especially Kiwi-Indians, are top of mind for Priyanca Radhakrishnan.

The Labour Party’s outgoing minister will be joining ACT’s Parmjeet Parmar as the only two Kiwi-Indians in the country’s new Parliament, with the final vote count for General Election 2023 coming in earlier this month.

National, the single largest party, failed to produce even a single Indian-origin MP, a performance Radhakrishnan describes as “an absolute travesty”.

“They [National] were lauded for selecting a number of candidates from Indian diaspora communities–yet it’s a shame none of them were selected for winnable seats or placed high enough on National’s list to be part of the 54th New Zealand Parliament.”

That said, the incoming coalition will have a Kiwi-Indian face in the Parliament. Parmjeet Parmar will be a lawmaker again, becoming an MP as a list candidate from ACT. The 53-year-old says her multidisciplinary background puts her in a unique position to make a difference.

“I am keen to see that our policy frameworks promote innovation. I firmly believe that having a well-defined framework that instills confidence in investment is crucial for driving innovation and fostering economic growth.”

Both Radhakrishnan and Parmar are, by now, seasoned lawmakers. In their third term as an MP now, they will carry the hopes of the nearly 300,000 Kiwi-Indians.

Radhakrishnan says having an ethnic voice in governance makes a big difference. “Having Kiwi-Indian representation at the Cabinet table ensures we are reflective of our population and enables the views, perspectives and aspirations of our communities at the highest level of government.”

Parmar says she is proud of her Indian heritage and loves celebrating and sharing her culture, but stresses on the multi-ethnic nature of the country. “We must evaluate individuals based on their merits, skills, and qualifications rather than their race to create a more inclusive society that values the contributions of all irrespective of their race.”

Both the politicians say their immediate focus will be on pressing issues like law and order and cost of living.

Community leaders also acknowledge the expectations the two women carry.

Narendra Bhana, President of New Zealand Indian Central Association Inc, says, “The Indian community can anticipate their advocacy in areas crucial to their interests, such as immigration policies that affect family reunification and skilled worker entry.

 "These MPs are also expected to address educational and economic opportunities, ensuring equal access and support for the Indian diaspora." Bhana believes the MPs can do their bit in addressing issues like racial discrimination and promoting diversity in the workplace and society.

Sharing the same sentiment, Dhansukh Lal, President of Auckland Indian Association Inc, expects these two Kiwi-Indian politicians to make sure that the voices of Kiwi-Indian diaspora are heard whether it be for crime, immigration, education or healthcare issues. “We have been engaging with various ministries, such as police, justice, health as well as immigration, and that needs to continue,” concludes Lal.