The commemoration of the 75th Independence Day anniversaries of India and Pakistan over the last 12 months have, like their respective journeys to freedom, been marked with endurance and adversity due to the global health situation of the past two years. The tryst of COVID-19 has meant, no matter our differences in cultures or ideas, a global unity and continued destiny has been forged as we work together in friendship for the betterment of the world.
New Zealand shares a special destiny of nationhood with our South Asian partners. We joined our sovereignty within the Commonwealth of Nations alongside their admission in the same year of 1947 through our national ascension to the Statute of Westminster and in our mutual ties over many years as free spirited and determined nations imparting our communal wisdom to other new nations of the world in the aftermath of the Second World War and end of the Colonial era.
The first peoples of the Subcontinent to come to New Zealand came to our shores almost as soon as our foundations began. They lived alongside us, they served in our armed forces, and they built our economy, they found their lives on New Zealand shores. New Zealand’s modern relationship with Pakistan and India has built on this shared heritage as well as a contemporary one of industrious multi-ethnic development. Those people of our past, like those who have come in more recent years, all have added to the vibrant makeup of New Zealand’s identity; all their stories and their experiences, like those of the many other cultures that call this country home, shape the New Zealand of 2022. However our origins, our nations and their peoples have always been aspirational and optimistic for our futures. We remain emboldened to champion our values and our countries unique identities as international partners and we celebrate our friendships. The valuable cultural ties and the strength that comes from Indian and Pakistani businesses, from their cuisines, their arts and media for the wellbeing of New Zealand cannot be underestimated.
Across New Zealand many celebrations will take place over mid-August highlighting the significance of the independence anniversaries. Many festivals will acknowledge the shared histories and many cultures, religions and ethnicities under the roofs of two strong nations that have now built roots on our New Zealand shores. In communal halls, in restaurants, in households and in our streets, people will come together to remember the legacy of those who founded the Federation of Pakistan and the Union of India. Those celebrating will be far from their ancestral homes physically when remembering their nationhood but these journeys that bring peoples together as one, nothing can keep us far apart from our shared heritage. We all should reflect on those journeys that have brought our communities together as part of New Zealand’s economic future and family. Our 250,000 strong subcontinental population has grown here because the New Zealand way of life has shown them a beautiful future in our lands embracing their identities.
As we look ahead together in New Zealand to 75 more years of our multilateral companionship I wish a very blessed Independence Day to all my Indian and Pakistani friends.
May the year of the 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations be forever special to all Indian New Zealanders.
And a very blessed Azadi Mubarak to all Pakistani New Zealanders on this special occasion.
Note: The article originally ran in The Indian News on 4 August 2022
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