The biggest celebration of the Kiwi-Indian community culminated in a gala celebration. Here are some highlights of the evening for our readers.

The Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame finally came together at the Pullman Hotel on June 23 at a gala event and dinner. Like each year, the who’s who of the Kiwi-Indian community gathered to celebrate and applaud the achievements of three exceptional individuals. This was the fourth edition of the Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame and was appreciated by all who attended. In our cover story this week, we bring the details of the event and of the winners who dazzeled the evening.

Here are some reactions from our guests:

“To the most amazing team at Indian Weekender. How wonderful was this evening! Lots of love, colour, smiles, achievement. Thank you so much!”
—Helen Tua

“Fantastic event! So proud to be a part of it. Well put event. Congratulations to the team for such a wonderful time.”
—Mandeep Kaur, NZ Police

“Thank you, Indian Weekender. I came from Fiji. It was a great experience. PM John Key said: It was a job well done. Love you, Indian Weekender.”
—Mukesh Chand

“Par excellence! Each year, the Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame event has achieved a milestone. Most rewarding, entertaining and inspiring. God bless!”
—Subhag and Dr Ajit Swaran Singh

“Such an inspirational group of award winners”
—Jacinda Ardern, MP

“Well organised, entertaining and short and sweet. Thank you!”
—Nathan Saminathan

“Fantastic evening! Fantastic publication! Best wishes to Indian Weekender.”
—Penny Simmonds

“Awesome event, IWK. Loved every bit of it. Well done to the A-team.”

“Celebrating success with humour. Wow!”
—Mayor Tim Shadbolt and Asha

“Vocie of the Indian community. Keep it up!”
—Counties Manukau Police

“Thank you, for a beautiful evening and congrats to the team and awardees!”
—Priyanca Radhakrishnan

It was essentially, a night to celebrate the achievements of three Kiwi-Indians through the highest honours of the Kiwi-Indian community—the Kiwi Indian Young Achiever of the Year, the Kiwi Indian Unsung Hero and the big Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame

The Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame

The Kiwi-Indian Hall of Fame was instituted to recognise the achievements of an individual in their field of endeavour that are unparalleled and as a result of this have brought name, fame and glory not only to the individual but to the Kiwi Indian community at large. Through these awards, Indian Weekender provides a platform to acknowledge and celebrate the success of these Kiwi-Indians. The first inductee to the Hall of Fame was Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, followed by Dr Ajit Swaran Singh and Dr Kantilal Naranji Patel is the reigning inductee. None of these individuals need any introduction and are exemplary in their own areas of endeavour. They were all there to honour the inductee to the Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame 2016.

Dr C S Benjamin, Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame 2016 inductee 

Born in Tamil Nadu, India, Dr Chellaraj Satyasdas Benjamin has worked as a cancer specialist for the past 30 years at the Auckland Public Hospital where he has treated more than 500 patients a year. He was the Clinical Director of Radiation Oncology at Auckland Hospital where he efficiently ran the oncology department until September 2007. He has organised several health expos for the community. As the President of Auckland Indian Medical Society for the past 15 years, he represents them in several charity meetings and annual medical conferences for Indian doctors.

Dr Benjamin was made exceptional contributions to the community in South Pacific. He has worked with NZAID and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 10 years as the coordinator of New Zealand Medical Treatment Scheme for seven South Pacific countries that includes Fiji, Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. He is a regular visitor to the Samoan capital and is well known for his efforts to life public health in the country. In 2007, he took 35 volunteers to Samoa and saved 10 children with open heart surgery that was performed for the first time in the history of the country. They performed 14 surgeries in 2008 and the team performed these services for no monetary value. In 2005, he was bestowed with the title of Papalii by the Head of the State, Samoa. The same year, he played a major role in establishing the first Kidney Dialysis Unit in the country. Three years later, he established the first Kidney Dialysis Unit in Fiji.

His services in Samoa continued. He coordinated the New Zealand Medical Treatment Scheme for Samoa for 10 years and has been looking after the Samoan Medical treatment scheme for more than 14 years. He also played an important role in the formation of National Heart Foundation six years ago. Dr Benjamin is credited for organising two OUM medical conferences and two international medical conferences in Samoa.

In 2006, he was awarded the Certificate on Honour by Helen Clark, the then Prime Minister of New Zealand. Two years later, he was honoured with Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to medicine and the community. Last year, Dr Benjamin was awarded the Order of Merit Samoa.

Currently, he is the Dean at the Oceania University of Medicine, the Clinical Director at Auckland Radiation Oncology, Mercy Hospital; a consultant oncologist at Auckland Hospital, and a director at CS Benjamin Ltd and Universal Medical and Surgical Care.

The Kiwi Indian Unsung Hero

The Kiwi Indian Unsung Hero was instituted last year to honour individuals who have gone above and beyond their everyday life in their area of endeavour. These are individuals who have dedicated themselves to achieving and engaging in their area that has benefited their entire community and even the entire country without a care for name, fame or glory for themselves. These are heroes that have gone unnoticed and we seek to honour and acknowledge them.

Ramesh Patel, Kiwi Indian Unsung Hero of the Year

As a youngster, Mr Patel had a natural flair in sport that developed him into one of New Zealand’s most recognised Indian sportsman and administrators. He started playing hockey for St Lukes Hockey Club in 1963 and soon gained a place in the Auckland Hatch Cup and NZ Hatch Cup tournament teams; thus commenced his illustrious career in the sport. But before he committed himself to playing hockey for Auckland and New Zealand, Mr Patel has a short stint with Auckland Indian Sports club as a cricketer where he was a part of the New Zealand U-21 Brabin Cup tournament team. The same year, Mr Patel was conferred the New Zealand Herald Junior Sportsman of the Year award.

As a sportsman, Ramesh was a perfectionist at technique and a great team member. He was part of the Auckland Hockey team from 1971 to 1986. He was the captain of the team from 1983–86. From 1972 to 1986, he played for the New Zealand Hockey team where he was the vice-captain from 1981–86. He was selected for four Olympic Games for hockey and was also selected into four World Cup team for hockey.

Mr Patel has been a member of the New Zealand Indian Sports Associations, representing hockey teams since 1983, captaining and playing in a number of provincial and international fixtures.

Outside hockey field, he was the Chief Executive of Hockey New Zealand for two decades.

For his outstanding achievements and contribution to hockey, Mr Patel received the Queens Service Medal in 1988, and on June 23, Indian Weekender presented him with the Kiwi-Indian Unsung Hero of the Year award. Through his passion and commitment to hockey, he has brought glory and fame to the Kiwi-Indian community.

The Kiwi Indian Young Achiever

The Kiwi-Indian Young Achiever Award was instituted to the honour young Kiwi-Indians who have shone through their talents and hard work and have become names to reckon with. Nominations were invited from young people between the ages of 16 to35 years. This young achiever could have demonstrated their genius in any field—be it academics, sports, art, culture, community service or any other area.

Dr Malvindar Singh-Bains, Kiwi Indian Young Achiever of the Year

A neuroscientist based at the University of Auckland Centre for Brain Research, Dr Malvindar Singh-Bains is most well known for her work in promoting brain health and awareness of neurodegenerative diseases.

In 2010, Dr Malvindar was awarded the University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship to complete her PhD, specifically focusing on Huntington’s disease. She presented her research at the World Congress of Huntington’s Disease held in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 and at the Hereditary Disease Foundation Conference in Boston, Massachusetts in 2014 where she was one of the youngest speakers. Her research was also accepted into Annals of Neurology—one of the top five clinical neurology journals in the world—a major accomplishment for a young researcher.

Dr Malvindar founded and is the co-chair of, the Huntington’s Disease Youth Organisation of New Zealand, a charity devoted to supporting, educating and advocating New Zealand youth affected by Huntington’s disease.

Dr Malvindar is driven by the fact that despite the world being aware of the disease, there is still no cure. She has played a crucial role in encouraging youth to recognise the importance of “looking after your brain”. For her continued efforts and dedication to increasing the awareness among youth, we presented her with the Kiwi-Indian Young Achiever award for the Year.

For pictures, check out our photo gallery here.

There were several other people who we would like to acknowledge for the event and we will introduce them in our forthcoming issues.