Dr. Ashraf Chaudhry, a former member of parliament and a current member of the Otara Papatoetoe Local Board, is celebrating with other ethnic groups in general and the Sikh community in particular that a road has been dedicated in honour of the Sikh Guru.
The passageway, known as “Waheguru Lane,” is located off Redoubt Road in Manukau City.
Waheguru, a famous Sikh term that means “Wonderful Enlightener,”
According to Dr. Choudhary, Harry Singh of Sunshine Homes, who built 18 new homes nearby, was the driving force behind the creation of “Waheguru Lane.”
Dr. Choudhary, who served on the local board for the previous six years, played a key role in getting the name in honour of the Sikh community, despite the fact that he did not mention it.
These are Deepak Lane, Diwan Lane, and Shahkot Way in the Papatoetoe neighbourhood of South Auckland.
He established “Diwali in Parliament” and “Eid Al Fitr in Parliament” more than 20 years ago, during his nine years as a member of parliament on the Labour List (2002 to 2011).
Earlier, the developer selected three names – Bhagat, Mohammed, and Nanak – that were closely associated with India’s cultural values. However, after further deliberation, these were changed to Simran Lane, Harkirat Lane, and Waheguru Lane for the private roads at 42, 42A, and 42B Redoubt Road.
“Ethnic diversity is now a reality in New Zealand. Approximately 15% New Zealand population now express themselves as of non-European, non-Maori and non-pacific Island origin. A Majority of these ethnic communities are of East Asian or South Asian descent,” he said.
Dr Choudhary said that ethnic people are now being slowly recognised and celebrated at various decision-making levels. They are now represented in Parliament, local Councils and other important posts. Their culture and traditions are being celebrated and valued. Vaisakhi (Harvest Festival in North India ushering in the Spring) and Chinese New Year are now celebrated in Parliament and at City Council levels in major cities.
“Naming of roads and streets in new housing developments is a recent expression of celebration of diversity. Local Councils have the right to give names to new streets and roads being built. In Auckland, because of the size and Council structure, the right to name streets is given to the 21 Local Boards. In the Otara-Papatoetoe ward, the Board members, as the Governors of the area, approve the final names of new streets and roads,” he said.
Dr Choudhary, who has been a local board member of Otara-Papatoetoe has taken significant initiatives to celebrate New Zealand diversity.
“Nearly 50% of the population of Papatoetoe is now home to people of South Asian origin, where all major religions are also represented. Therefore, it is natural that these communities and their contribution are properly represented in new road and street names. These new streets and suburbs must reflect the aspirations of the wider demographics of our community. There are many upcoming developers and builders of Asian background now in the building industry. They should insist that new streets and suburbs be named to reflect and celebrate their heritage and contribution to New Zealand,” he said.
Dr Choudhary has advised all developers to contact their local boards for such recognition.
Similarly 2 years ago in New York one of the street has been co-named ‘Punjab Avenue’
A street was named ‘Punjabi Avenue’ to celebrate the contribution of the South Asian community in Queens in the US.
The Avenues between 111th and 123rd—which was nicknamed “Little Punjab” as businesses run by Punjabis and the presence of two gurdwaras—has now been co-named Punjab Avenue.
According to a CBS New York report, the initiative was a joint effort by several South Asian groups and City Council Member Adrienne Adams.
“This community has been underserved, not really recognized,” Adams told the news website.
“Invisible, which is a travesty, knowing everything that all of our community brings to this wonderful district.”
A video of the board was also shared along with a witty caption that read, “Move over 5th Avenue, Manhattan. Queens now has….’Punjab Avenue’”.
Move over 5th Avenue, Manhattan. Queens now has…."Punjab Avenue" pic.twitter.com/grybD4mYjy
— Milan Vaishnav (@MilanV) October 27, 2020
he move was also to acknowledge the community, which, according to Adams, has helped build and shape Richmond Hill for 50 years, the news website reported.