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

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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

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Invisible Indians – World Anglo-Indian Day: 2 August

Some of the first Indians to settle in Christchurch were Anglo-Indians. They arrived as domestic servants with John Cracroft Wilson in 1854 where they were employed on his estate which later became the suburb of Cashmere. They married into the local populace and some of their descendants still live in the Canterbury region.

It was a New Zealand Anglo-Indian who, in 2001 at the triennial World Anglo-Indian Reunion held in Auckland, selected 2 August to be a day of celebrating Anglo-Indian culture, culminating in World Anglo-Indian Day.

A pan-Indian community

Anglo-Indians (originally called ‘Eurasians’) are an Indian community who are the descendants of a historical union between a European father and an Indian mother.

The community often traces its initial origins to the arrival of the Portuguese merchants who settled in India in the 16th century. The British were the next major European power to arrive in the subcontinent, with the British East Indian Company gradually expanding their authority beyond the trading ports where they had initially settled. Originally the officials of the Company encouraged their men to marry Indian women. In the early days of the Company, it was common for British men to integrate themselves into Indian culture, with some converting to Islam, adopting Indian fashions and practices, and raising families with their Indian wives, essentially becoming what historian William Dalrymple has termed “White Mughals”.

Major William Palmer with his second wife, the Mughal princess Bibi Faiz Bakhsh, and family. Wikimedia Commons.

Yet by the end of the 18th century attitudes began to change. The loss of the American colonies made the British wary of allowing a community, whose loyalties were not always certain, the responsibility of administering their most prized colonial possession. Measures were taken to restrict Anglo-Indians to lower ranks of the civil service and military in order to prevent them from gaining positions of authority.

By the dawn of the nineteenth century, racism and religious intolerance by the Company board of directors in London also led to the cohabitation of British and Indians being actively discouraged. Relationships between British men and Indian women still continued in secret, but the children were often no longer publicly acknowledged by the father. British regulations meant the Indian mothers had no rights to their children, and many were taken off them and abandoned in orphanages where they were raised to become British and Christian.

During the era of the British Raj (1858-1947), Anglo-Indians often worked in roles where they could act as intermediaries between the British officials and Indian employees. One traditional form of employment reserved for them was the railway department. As such the railway came to play a central role in the identity of Anglo-Indians and even led to the development of certain dishes such as railway mutton curry.

Although they dressed in the manner of the British, had British names and were Christian, they were still not accepted as equals by the British who ruled in India. In order to escape the prejudice they faced, many assimilated into British society by covering up their Indian roots, often attributing their looks to a “Spanish ancestor”. Others, when immigrating to new countries, hid their origins and simply pretended that their family were “British who lived in India”. As a result of this, generations have grown up cut off from their roots and cultural identity.

Because of their identity as subjects of the British Empire, Anglo-Indians continued to arrive in New Zealand throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, especially in the decades leading up to the independence of India in 1947. Although the community in India is estimated to be between 300,000 to 1,000,000 strong, the diaspora following Independence led to many settling in former British colonies such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Today, many New Zealanders of Anglo-Indian heritage are now reconnecting with their culture and heritage, often in the form of making trips to India for the express purpose to research their family’s origins.

The subject of this ‘renaissance’ of Anglo-Indian identity in New Zealand is currently being researched by Dr. Robyn Andrews of Massey University. The oral histories of Anglo-Indians in New Zealand is also the subject of the book, Raj Days to Downunder by Christchurch based scholar, Dorothy McMenamin (an Anglo-Indian originally from Pakistan). Work has also been undertaken by Dr. Jane McCabe of Otago University who has examined the history of the ‘Kalimpong Kids’, Anglo-Indian children who were brought out to New Zealand in the early twentieth century to work in domestic duties.

Famous Anglo-Indians include writer, Virginia Woolf, comedians, Billy Connolly and Alistair McGowan, and musicians, Cliff Richard and Engelbert Humperdinck.

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Podcast – Changing face of rural 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.

This episode was recorded live at Ashburton Museum and features Tanya Robinson (Ashburton Museum), Sophie-Claire Violette (Mid Canterbury Newcomers Network), Cornelius Grobler, and Leen Braam and Mubashir Mukhtar (Ashburton District Council) discussing stories of migration to Mid Canterbury.

  • ‘New Faces, New Lives’ exhibition at Ashburton Museum
  • Population growth and increasing diversity in Ashburton region
  • Experiences as a migrant in Ashburton


Transcript of audio file

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Cover of My home now Cover of Migrant journeys Cover of Welcome to our world? Cover of I have in my arms both ways Cover of Promised New Zealand

Web resources

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Podcast – Bilingualism in a single language-dominant society

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.

UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day is on 21 February. In this episode Sally speaks with University of Canterbury and Growing up with Two Languages researchers Una Cunningham and Jin Kim, and activists/teachers Anya Filippochkina and Jawad Arefi, who discuss community/heritage language bi- and multilingualism in a single language-dominant society.

  • Part I: Defining ‘mother language’, ‘first language’ etc
  • Part II: Cognitive, professional and social benefits of speaking multiple languages; first language use among first- and second-generation migrants
  • Part III: Challenges to encouraging continued engagement with first languages in a single language-dominant society
  • Part IV: Recommendations to parents

Transcript of audio file

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Cover of How to teach a language Cover of Language and literacy in the early years Cover of Assessing the needs of bilingual pupils Cover of The value of the Māori language?

Dragonsource World Book Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos Road to IELTS General 

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Migrant voices – WORD Christchurch

Migrant Voices was yet another epic, stimulating event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival.

Chaired by journalist Donna Miles-Mojab, the citizens of Christchurch and others from abroad sat and listened closely to first hand accounts from individuals who have made perilous and nerve shattering journeys away from conflict zones, to what is now their home – New Zealand.

It was a treat to be listening to such compelling narratives while sitting within The Chamber of the newly and beautifully designed  The Piano.

Donna Miles-Mojab. Image supplied.
Donna Miles-Mojab. Image supplied.

Somalian national Dr Hassam Ibrahim, and Afghan national Abbas Nazari spoke of their manifold hardships leaving the places their families knew, to eventually arrive via boats, planes, trucks and on foot, to New Zealand’s shores, to be faced with radically different surroundings and cultural sensibilities.

They spoke of their New Zealand experience with great gratitude but also lamented leaving their homelands for a place where they may not always be understood as people. It’s not every day that you get the privilege of hearing first hand accounts such as these. It’s staggering to think that RIGHT NOW over 3.2 million desperate humans are seeking asylum throughout the earth! Forced to leave homes, friends and familiar environments to make huge transitions abroad.

Double the Quota” campaigner Murdoch Stephens made the case for New Zealand to lift its refugee quota, and discussed the many positive economic and cultural impacts of resettling refugees in New Zealand. It was a compelling case – given that “NZ’s refugee quota has not grown since 1987”, which is pretty lame in contrast to our Australian cousins who “currently take more than three times as many quota refugees and asylum seekers as NZ per capita”.

Murdoch Stephen. Image supplied.
Murdoch Stephen. Image supplied.


WORD Christchurch

Think Library, Think Diversity

The face of New Zealand is changing. Made up of 213 ethnicities, we’re one of the most diverse nations in the world. Spearheaded by the huge rise in migrant workers and refugees, our diversity offers opportunities and challenges.

Human Rights Commission

Christchurch City Libraries values and embraces diversity. On 24 and 25 August, a number of our staff attended the New Zealand Diversity Forum held at the University of Canterbury to share experiences and to learn and reflect.

The not-so-good news:

“In principle New Zealanders are inclusive, but in practice they make distinctions among different groups. They discriminate in subtle and not-so-subtle ways in the market and other domains. New Zealanders hide their prejudices in institutions that give them plausible deniability of racism, or they express their prejudices in an anonymous setting.

We are people that have good in our hearts, but often struggle to do what is right, especially in specific situations where we can hide behind institutional procedures or local norms.”

Prof. James Liu, Centre of Applied Cross-Cultural Research, Victoria University of Wellington

The good news:

Our bicultural kaupapa (policy and philosophy) can help.

  • Inspector Rakesh Naidoo (South African-born, of Indian descent), National Strategic Ethnic Advisor for the New Zealand Police, acknowledged the support he received from his Māori and Pasifika colleagues upon his arrival in Christchurch and how this helped with his settlement.
  • Te Marie Tau from the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre emphasised the importance of nurturing the people while we are rebuilding the city. He also talked about Manaakitanga (hospitality) and Whakawhanaungatanga (the process of establishing relationships) to ensure we don’t lose sight of our everyday needs.

Snapshots from the Forum

Here are some snapshots from our staff who attended the Forum:

Jo Yang (Network Library Assistant)

“I received such a powerful message from the forum and learnt that diversity is a resource that should be utilized for the betterment of New Zealand. It is a resource like no other where people find themselves learning new ideas from different societies and cultures. A fuel that could help rebuild Christchurch. I met many new faces who had travelled from other cities as well as finding familiar faces – customers at our libraries.

Through this forum, I believe I have gained an asset by learning a new ideology of being thankful that my job is helping to bridge the gap between diversity and connecting unique people through the library… Next year, you should attend!”

Barbara Purcell (Fendalton Library)

“There were several highlights at the diversity forum for me. The first was at the beginning when 13 people from different faiths each contributed a different flower into a vase. Each flower was different in colour, scent, form etc., as are people from diverse cultures. It was a great visual representation of diversity.

The Digital Natives presentation was given by a group of young people who had been attending the Inspiring Leaders Conference that weekend. They spoke about how they used social media as “word of mouth” and saw this as one of the strongest drivers of action. Examples given were the James Brown case in the US and the plight of the Yazidi girls captured by ISIS and sold as sex slaves for $10 each. One young person was developing an App to match volunteers with organisations needing volunteers based on their interest and commitment level. Another was developing a programme called FoodWeb where charities and communities would recognise via social media businesses who donated food to them. These young people, mostly around 18 years of age, were truly inspiring.

The BNZ’s Annie Brown spoke of the programmes, services and employment opportunities they have developed to increase not only ethnic diversity in their organisation but also gender equity: flexible working hours, including compressed working weeks and job sharing, and promoting Māori employment at the BNZ by partnering with Ngāi Tahu through a Cadetship programme.”

Susan Smit (Central Library Peterborough)

“The Forum was a great opportunity to meet lots of interesting people from many cultures and backgrounds. It was quite nice for a change to hear so many others speak with a different accent.

Diversity in Action Poster It was also awesome to see our interactive display which featured some of our staff profiles and relevant materials about diversity in action at Christchurch City Libraries. Comments were that people didn’t realise how diverse our staff is and that we had so many different language collections, which were featured by a wall of covers from the Maori, Pasifika and world languages collections.

It is hard to select which sessions stood out most for me, but here are some of my highlights, including the best quotes:

  • Professor James Liu: ‘NZ has a unique strength of biculturalism which is embedded in history that nowadays co-exists with multiculturalism.’
  • From the winning speech of a young Vietnamese Kiwi: ‘If you are aware of racism, to do a little is better than nothing. Have a conscious mind and be friendly. One grain of rice can tip the scale.’
  • Lianne Dalziel: ‘Don’t treat migrant workers as second hand citizens.’
  • The young adults at the Youth Forum who made the audience stand up. Phrases were read out and people were asked to sit down if any of these applied to them. The situations varied from ‘have you ever been ridiculed because of your appearance, accent, sexual preference’ etc., to ‘have you had to flee your home country’. It was an impressive exercise and at the end only 3 people were still standing from about 200.
  • Mike Bush, Commissioner of Police: ‘NZ police force will be joining the Gay Parade in February 2015 in uniform.’ This drew big applauses from the audience and my own mumbled comment that this was about time.
  • A guy from the Race Relations Commission who started his speech in German and assumed that no one had understood his intro (bar one…)

There was also an interesting discussion about the definition of diversity. It has a wider meaning than just a cultural issue as it also includes sexual orientation and gender awareness.”

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E koekoe te tui
E ketekete te kākā
E kūkū te kererū
The tui chatters
The parrot gabbles
The wood pigeon coos
“it takes all kinds of people…”

New to Christchurch? Settlement Support

Many agencies in our city provide specialised support for migrants and refugees but navigating those services can be confusing. Our Central Library is currently hosting a new information service to help migrants find their way around the range of agencies – Settlement Support is a Department of Labour initiative which funds a service in all main centres of New Zealand.

The Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce is managing the initiative in Christchurch. Shirley Van Waveren is available Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm on the library’s first floor. She is happy to help with any enquiries relating to the settlement of migrants – employment, education, health and housing in particular.

Useful links for migrants:

  • Migrants guide to Christchurch – Christchurch City Council
    Key information to help you get settled, from transport to banking, and tax to medical care. The migrants guide has also been translated into some other languages.
  • New Migrants
    A listing from the library of relevant websites for new migrants arriving in New Zealand.
  • New settlers
    Information from Christchurch City Libraries on library services and collections for new settlers, including books in other languages.