Indian group has big plans
There's a new hand on the reins and some big plans in the pipeline for the Manukau Indian Association.
Veer Khar has been elected president of the 1000-strong organisation, replacing outgoing president Manish Tanna.
He came to New Zealand from India's Kashmir region in 1998 and now lives in Dannemora.
He is a civil engineer for Auckland Council and also has a masters degree in human rights and international policy from Auckland University.
He has been involved with the Indian association for 10 years.
And he plans to make some "ambitious" changes to the group to reach not just Manukau but the entire Indian population of New Zealand over the next year.
Those will include engaging more with young people and linking up with similar groups throughout the country.
"There are many Indian organisations out there. We want to provide them with a co-ordinating platform," the 52-year-old says.
"Everyone retains their own structure but they will be able to communicate with each other."
The married father-of-two is also planning a membership drive to encourage more people to join the organisation.
More than 30,000 people of Indian descent live in the former Manukau City Council area and they are a "formidable" force for change, he says.
The group will also be hosting more discussion forums where members can put their questions and concerns to politicians.
Burglaries and violent crime are big concerns for many members, as are women's rights, Khar says.
"Women used to be so respected in India that men would line up down the street and women could pick one to be her husband," he says.
"We went from that to women jumping on fires when their husbands died. They were so terrified and that man was their only protector.
"There are some of those sick elements still within society.
"We find some of our womenfolk are scared of family violence."
A revamp of the group's buildings on Tui Rd and Hillside Rd in Papatoetoe is also on the cards.
The Manukau Indian Association is a secular organisation that welcomes members regardless of caste, creed or country of origin.
Go to manukauindians.org.nz or facebook.com/manukauindians for more information on the group.