The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt. Hon. John Key, attended the Janmashtami celebration at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Avondale, Auckland, on Sunday 5 September 2010.
On his arrival, the Prime Minister first visited the Pramukh Swami Youth Centre where youngsters took part in a display of regular weekly activities such as classical music and dance, karate, Gujarati learning and satsang classes. The Prime Minister was amazed to see so many young people active in preserving their culture and heritage. Next, he had darshan in the mandir where he learnt about the life and teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Finally, he attended the Janmashtami celebration in the assembly hall where the youths had earlier performed a drama entitled ‘Paksh’, depicting a scene from the Mahabharat.
Balaks greeted the Prime Minister with a welcome dance. Following a short video presentation of Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi was shown, Jnanpurush Swami formally welcomed the Prime Minister and then read a letter of condolences from His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Christchurch. In the letter Swamishri offered prayers for the affected and conveyed his deepest sympathy to all. The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha reached out in this time of need by presenting the Prime Minister with a cheque of $11,000 towards the earthquake relief fund. At the same time, BAPS volunteers pledged to continue with their support by collecting more funds through a BAPS Earthquake Appeal Project.
The Prime Minister mentioned in his address,“Namaste. Can I thank you firstly for the invitation to your most beautiful temple and an opportunity to come and see so many of you, and the boys and girls that are here this evening.
Thank you for the extraordinary generosity, your gift of $11,000, which I will give to the earthquake relief fund tomorrow morning. It is good to be here to celebrate the birth of Krishna and to support you and your faith. New Zealand is very lucky. We have now over 100,000 New Zealanders of Indian ethnicity. I had an opportunity earlier to visit your youth centre, and can I say how impressive it was.
It was wonderful to see the opportunities you are providing for your young people. One of the reasons that the Indian community is so strong and so successful in New Zealand is because of its beliefs in families and to the respect that the children show for their parents and their grandparents, and for the wider family community.
Thank you for inviting me here this evening. Next year I am going to go to India. It is a remarkable country. I have been there before a couple of times. Finally, I think it is great to see a community that cares so much for its families and is so ambitious, that works so hard and believes in all the very best of New Zealand.”
Accompanying the Prime Minister on his visit was Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, MP, representing Manukau East.
The Prime Minister and his delegation departed after spending 75 minutes at the mandir.