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'Exhilarating': Fiji-Indian honoured for community services

Dr Prem Singh

Fiji-Indian Dr Prem Singh has been appointed as a Member of New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in recognition of his outstanding services to multicultural communities spanning more than three decades. 

Singh, who resides in Wellington, told The Indian Weekender, "It's an exhilarating and deeply humbling honour. This recognition goes beyond me; it's a spotlight on the collective effort of our multicultural communities. 

“Being a Member of New Zealand Order of Merit is a profound honour and a heartfelt responsibility that I accept with the deepest humility and gratitude. It represents a recognition of the collective work we've done in our communities, highlighting the power of unity, collaboration, and mutual support. 

“This honour is a reflection of the many hands and hearts that have joined together to make a tangible difference in the lives of others."

Becoming MNZM is a profound recognition of exceptional service and contributions to society. The MNZM recipients become beacons of inspiration, promoting diversity and unity. It represents personal fulfilment and a commitment to continued service, instilling a sense of responsibility. 

For Singh, the recognition underscores his decades-long dedication to multicultural integration, emphasising the importance of fostering inclusivity and understanding within New Zealand's richly-diverse landscape.

Singh's journey began in 1989 when he joined Wellington Regional Multicultural Council and New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils (Multicultural New Zealand). A virtuoso in community leadership, he has conducted roles ranging from secretary to president and now the esteemed position of treasurer for both the councils.

As the maestro of Multicultural New Zealand, Singh orchestrated projects that were more than mere notes on paper. He crafted initiatives to develop youth leadership and empowered women from diverse backgrounds to compose stronger family and community connections.

In 2018, Dr Singh's symphony reached new heights with the creation of Multicultural New Zealand's Huarahi Hou Strategy. A melodic pathway designed to help multicultural communities better understand Te Tiriti O Waitangi and contemporary Māori culture, it was a composition that resonated with harmony and unity.

As the founding member and President of Wellington Fiji Association, he led the charge in celebrating Diwali at Parliament, a cultural crescendo that echoed through the halls of power.

"This honour is a testament to the resilience, strength, and spirit of the communities I've had the privilege to serve and empower, especially my long association spanning over 33 years with Multicultural New Zealand, Multicultural Council Wellington and Fiji Association Wellington Inc. It reinforces my commitment to continue this meaningful work," says the 72-year-old.

Beyond the celebratory tunes, Dr Singh proved to be a maestro with a heart, orchestrating vaccination drives during the pandemic and conducting fundraising initiatives for those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle in 2023.

"This recognition signifies a commitment to the values of service, empathy, and inclusivity. It is a reminder that every small action towards helping others can ripple outwards, creating substantial positive change. 

“It reinforces my dedication to strive for a society where everyone feels empowered and supported. It's a call to keep listening, learning, and leading with compassion to ensure that our efforts align with the needs and hopes of our communities.

“This recognition is a milestone that inspires me to redouble my efforts, keep pushing boundaries, and find new ways to uplift and empower those around me," says Singh.

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