Podcast – Indian communities in New Zealand

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

Guests Rakesh Naidoo (Strategic Advisor Race Relations at the Human Rights Commission), Archna Tandon, and Jane Buckingham (University of Canterbury historian) discuss Indian migration to and settlement in New Zealand across the centuries.

Part I: History of Indian migration to and settlement in Aotearoa, including changes to immigration policy and its effects; key drivers for Indian migration; Indian international students

Part II: Being ‘Indian’ in New Zealand vs being ‘Punjabi’ etc in India; navigating multiple identities in multiple contexts

Part III: Factors that can enable and hinder successful settlement

Transcript – Indian communities in NZ

Find out more in our collection

Cover of Raj days downunder Cover of India in New Zealand Local Identities, Global Relations Cover of Indian Settlers The Story of A New Zealand South Asian Community Cover of Sari: Indian women at work in New Zealand Cover of Indians and the Antipodes: Networks, Boundaries and Circulation Cover of Indian inkCover of Chasing rainbows

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

Mokaa – The land of opportunity: 125 years of Indians in Aotearoa exhibition – 13 to 24 August

You are welcome to come and view the free exhibition Mokaa – The land of opportunity: 125 years of Indians in Aotearoa:

  • Monday 13 August to Friday 24 August (the exhibition is open 8am to 5pm weekdays, not on weekends)
  • Christchurch City Council foyer
  • 53 Hereford Street
  • Christchurch Central

This exhibition highlights the history of Indians in New Zealand.

It includes true stories with over 100 compelling and rarely seen photographs of New Zealand Indian settlement – from the first Indian presence, to pioneering settlers, to established communities in New Zealand.

Download the poster [PDF]
Download the poster [PDF]

Learn more about India and New Zealand


Sultan Mahomet (ca. 1836-1905): Picturing Canterbury

Sultan Mahomet (ca. 1836-1905). File Reference PhotoCD 18, IMG0048.

Mahomet was a Muslim from Asia and he was one of a very small group of Muslims then living in New Zealand. His death certificate states that he came from northern India. A hawker, he lived in Dunedin but, at about age 69, came to Christchurch in Dec. 1905. He stayed at Brightling’s Lane in the Avon Loop, the address of his son, Sali, or Icecream Charlie, probably intending to attend Sali’s wedding. He died of a stroke at Brightling’s Lane and is buried in Linwood Cemetery

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Do you have any photographs of the Mahomet family? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

A slice of India on the Port Hills

ImageIt is embarrassing to admit, but I may well be the only person in Christchurch who never realised that the suburb of Cashmere was named after the Indian region.

The only justification I can come up with for this is that nowadays Cashmere in India is usually spelt Kashmir, and that I pronounce it with the stress on the second syllable rather than the first.  So the connection between the two is really not *that* obvious.  Plus I live on the other side of town… Well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

So I was surprised to discover, while reading the Sydenham Cemetery Tour Guide written by Richard Greenway, our resident genealogy and cemetery guru, that, not only was Cashmere named after the Indian state, but that it was home to one of the first community of Indians in New Zealand.

Most came in 1859 as servants for John Cracroft Wilson, who, prior to transferring to New Zealand, had been a magistrate in India. In 1870 Wilson had what was later known as the Old Stone house built for the Indian workers to live in.

Wilson was an interesting character:  “he was a benevolent squire to the people who lived on or near his estate” and “allowed his labourers land and stock, provided houses for those who retired in his service and granted freedom to men whose time [of indenture] was up”; however he also took to court any workers who absconded, so that he might get them back to Cashmere.

The Indian workers became part of the wider community, with some, notably Ramchun Soman and his sister Rose, marrying European New Zealanders.

Their memory is preserved in the many Indian street names  in the area:

  • Shalamar Drive,
  • Bengal Drive,
  • Darjeeling Place,
  • Delhi Place,
  • Indira Lane,
  • Lucknow Place,
  • Nabob Lane,
  • Nehru Place,
  • Sasaram Lane.

Were you aware of Cashmere’s Indian connection? CoverIf, like me, you are fascinated by this discovery, you might enjoy the following links: