Though New Zealand and India are almost 12,000 kilometers apart, there are few things that connect the two countries - Migration, Travel, Adventure, Cricket, and History.
Indians in New Zealand - With a community of 185,000 people, Indians form around 4% of New Zealand's population. Majority of them (around 145,000 including me and my wife) live in Auckland, the largest city of New Zealand.
Indian migration to New Zealand began in the 1890s. By 1896 the number of Indians in New Zealand had grown to 46 and by 1916 there were 181, including 14 females. They came mostly from the Navsari and Surat regions of Gujarat province, but also from Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur in the Punjab. At the 1951 census there were 2,425 Indians in New Zealand. In 1981, they numbered 11,244. And by 2001, the Indian population had surged to 62,646.
Travel - As the Indian economy grows and creates more disposable income for urban Indians, travel abroad has taken off since last decade. Visit to New Zealand, the US, Canada come in the higher budget category as compared to nearby destinations like Thailand, Singapore, Dubai. Around 45,000 Indians traveled to New Zealand in 2015. At the same time, around 60,000 Kiwis traveled to India in 2015. This may include Indians holding Kiwi passports. But otherwise, Kiwis love to travel and explore the world. There's a tradition of spending a year traveling after graduating, which is called OE (Overseas experience).
Mount Everest - It was 29th May, 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers in human history to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The humility of Hillary's reaction to all the post-Everest adulation endeared him to the world. Over time, he cemented his position as the ultimate figure of a nation's pride precisely because he embodied the values and way of life to which most New Zealanders of his, and any other generation, aspire.
Following his ascent of Everest, Hillary devoted most of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he founded. Through his efforts, many schools and hospitals were built in Nepal. In 1985 he was appointed New Zealand High Commissioner to India and spent four and a half years based in New Delhi. The Government of India conferred on him its second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, posthumously, in 2008.
Cricket - Though it's a summer sport for New Zealanders and secondary in status to Rugby, for Indians Cricket is like religion and Cricketers are gods! I am not sure how many New Zealanders remember Richard Hadlee but he is a revered figure in India along with Martin Crowe who passed away recently after losing battle to cancer. The younger generation of Indians who love the short format of cricket are especially fond of Brendon McCullum who is currently playing for Gujarat Lions in the IPL. On my recent visit to India, I was surprised at youngsters addressing him as McCullum, and not Brendan McCullum. That's how well they connect with this dynamite of a batsman! Had it not been for Cricket, Indians may have never heard of places like Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Napier.
History - Now on to my favorite topic. Most of the references to India-New Zealand connect end up with the the topics I covered above, while events, stories, people from History rarely come up. So here are few things I found out -
Gallipoli Campaign, World War 1 - 25th April is an emotional day in Australia and New Zealand. Called the ANZAC Day, it's a national day of remembrance that commemorates all who fought at Gallipoli, Turkey against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The casualties included 8,709 soldiers from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand.
We rarely hear about this campaign in India, but there were more than 15,000 Indians fighting at Gallipoli (for British India) along with the ANZAC troops. 1,358 soldiers died and 3,500 were wounded.
Australian historian and researcher Prof Peter Stanley has written in detail in his book “Die in Battle, Do not Despair, The Indians on Gallipoli 1915”. According to Professor Stanley, there were four Gurkha battalions, one Sikh infantry battalion (of 14th Sikhs which suffered 80% casualties in June 1915 alone) and many thousands of Punjabi mule drivers in Galliopli. Unfortunately, none of their personal experiences seem to have ever been documented. This maybe attributed to the old saying that those who create history, seldom have the time to write about it, or as Stanley believes, “Most Indian troops were either illiterate and didn’t maintain any records, or if they did, those records haven’t survived”. Which is why their stories have never been accurately told. He adds, “To understand the Indian experience of Gallipoli, you must search the Anzac records – the diaries, photos and letters of Anzac soldiers who wrote endearingly about their Indian mates”.
Trawling through the Anzac records, Stanley found multiple mentions of the bravery of an Indian infantry man named Karam Singh. Many Anzacs wrote about Karam Singh with great awe, who is said to have continued to issue orders to his troops, even after he had been hit by an artillery shell and blinded by it.
Names of Cities, Towns, Streets in New Zealand - Many of them are named in memory of people, places, events during British India. Here are some of them -
Auckland - The largest city of New Zealand where I've been living for last 2 years. After the signing of the famous Treaty of Waitangi with Maori leaders in February 1840, the new Governor of New Zealand, William Hobson, chose the area as his new capital and named after George Eden, Earl of Auckland, the Governor-General of India, 1836–1842.
I noticed this statue of Lord Auckland in a corner of the city center when I had just arrived here. It was originally erected in Calcutta, India from 1848 to 1969, when it was purchased by Auckland City Council from the Government of India.
Lord Auckland is also known for (or infamous rather) for the First Anglo-Afghan War that was fought between the British East India Company andAfghanistan from 1839 to 1842, and ended in an overall Afghan victory. 4,500 British and Indian soldiers, plus 12,000 of their camp followers were killed by Afghan tribal fighters. The war earned a nickname of 'Auckland's Folly'.
One of the main streets in Auckland city center is called Khyber Pass, which is a key pass currently connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is the narrow pass through which Alexander, Genghis Khan, Mughals, and so many others entered India.
Wellington - The capital city of New Zealand, is named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852), the victor in the 1815 Battle of Waterloo. He was a colonel by 1796 and had arrived in Calcutta, India in February 1797, where he fought in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War at the Battle of Seringapatam. He was appointed governor of Seringapatam and Mysore in 1799 and, as a newly appointed major-general, won a decisive victory over the Maratha Confederacy at the Battle of Assaye in 1803.
Here's a picture of his house in Mysore, India -
Wellesley had grown tired of his time in India, remarking "I have served as long in India as any man ought who can serve anywhere else". In June 1804, he applied for permission to return home and as a reward for his service in India he was made a Knight of the Bath in September. While in India, Wellesley had amassed a fortune of £42,000 (considerable at the time), consisting mainly of prize moneyfrom his campaign. When his brother's term as Governor-General of India ended in March 1805, the brothers returned together to England.
On my recent trip to Wellington, I noticed Ghuznee Street in the CBD which is named after the battle of Ghuznee (Ghazni) in Afghanistan in 1839 during the first Anglo-Afghan War. The battle resulted in the deaths of 200 British and 500 Afghan soldiers.
Berhampore is a suburb of Wellington named after Berhampore in Bengal, one of the battlefields at the start of the Battle of Plassey of 1757. Many of the streets in this suburb were also then given Indian names.
Then, there is the suburb of Khandallah which is located 4 kilometers northeast of the city center and has an Indian theme, thanks to settler Captain James Andrew, who had served in the Indian Army and returned from duty in 1884. The suburb was named for Khandela, Rajasthan, and has street names like Agra Crescent, Amritsar Street, Baroda Street, Bengal Street, Calcutta Street, Cashmere Avenue, Dekka Street, Delhi Street, Everest Street, Ganges Road, Indus Street, Kim Street, Lucknow Terrace, Madras Street, Maldive Street, Mandalay Terrace, Omar Street, Poona Street, Rangoon Street, Simla Crescent, Simla Avenue, and even an area called Gavaskar Place and Kapil Grove after the 2 famous Indian cricketers.
Napier - The city of Napier is named after Sir Charles Napier (10 August 1782 – 29 August 1853), who was the British Army's Commander-in-Chief in India and the military leader during the "Battle of Meeanee" fought in the province of Sindh, India (now in Pakistan).
Alfred Domett, who drew the first plan of the town, proposed the new town be named after Sir Charles Napier and all the principal town roads and streets were named after the most prominent men in British Indian history, among them Clive, Hastings, Hardinge, and Wellesley.
Napier had quarrelled repeatedly with Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India over Dalhousie's behaviour on India's north-west frontier. Dalhousie had requested repeated punitive raids against villagers who had not paid taxes. This was as impolitic as it was dishonourable to the character of British soldiers,’ protested Napier, ‘yet no power was entrusted to me, and I had been sufficiently cautioned against interfering with the Punjaub civil authorities.’
In his posthumously published 'Defects, Civil and Military of the Indian Government' (Westerton, 1853) he detected and condemned the growing superciliousness of the English in India towards the Indians; 'The younger race of Europeans keep aloof from Native officers … How different this from the spirit which actuated the old men of Indian renown,' he wrote.
When revolt broke out in 1857, Napier's 'Defects' was hailed as a prophetic work which correctly identified many of the seething tensions in the sub-continent.
The suburb of Meeanee in Napier commemorates his victory in the Battle of Miani.
The city of Karachi in Sindh (Pakistan) earlier had a Napier Road (now Shahrah-e-Altaf Hussain), Napier Street (now Mir Karamali Talpur Road) and Napier Barracks (now Liaquat Barracks).
Hastings - Not far from Napier, is the urban area called Hastings that is named after Warren Hastings (6 December 1732 – 22 August 1818), an English statesman, and the first Governor of the Presidency of Fort William (Bengal), the head of the Supreme Council of Bengal, and thereby the first de facto Governor-General of India from 1773 to 1785.
Hastings with wife Marian at their garden in Alipore 1784 -
He was accused of corruption and impeached in 1787, but after a long trial he was acquitted in 1795. Hastings served as a volunteer in Clive's forces as they retook Calcutta in January 1757. Robert Clive was impressed with Hastings when he met him. In 1758 Hastings became the British Resident in the Bengali capital of Murshidabad - a major step forwards in his career - at the instigation of Clive. His role in the city was ostensibly that of an ambassador but as Bengal came increasingly under the dominance of the East India Company he was often given the task of issuing orders to the new Nawab on behalf of Clive and the Calcutta authorities.
Havelock - There's a town called Havelock in the South Island of New Zealand as well as Havelock North, a town in Hawke's Bay. They are both named after Major General Sir Henry Havelock, known from the Siege of Lucknow during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. He is particularly associated with his recapture of Cawnpore from rebels during the Indian Mutiny of 1857.
In India, Havelock Island, in the Andaman Islands is also named in his honour.
Cashmere suburb in Christchurch - Cashmere takes its name from Sir John Cracroft Wilson's farm, which originally occupied the present suburb. Wilson was born in India and named his farm after Kashmir. It has streets and lanes with names like - Darjeeling Lane named after Darjeeling, a district in the state of West Bengal in India, Bengal Drive, Chittagong Lane, Darjeeling Place, Delhi Place, Indira Lane, Jahan Lane, Lucknow Place, Nabob Lane, Nehru Place, Sasaram Lane and Shalamar Drive.
Coromandel - The beautiful Coromandel Peninsula is named after HMS Coromandel (originally named HMS Malabar), a ship of the British Royal Navy, which stopped at Coromandel Harbour in 1820 to purchase kauri spars and was itself named for India's Coromandel Coast.
Coonoor - Named after Coonoor, the famous hill station in India, Coonoor is a small sheep-farming district in the Northern Wairarapa, approximately 38 km south-east of Dannevirke, and 48 km north-east of Pahiatua.
Kirwee is a town located west of Christchurch in the Canterbury region of New Zealand's South Island. It was named after Karwi (Chitrakoot Dham in Uttar Pradesh, India) by retired British Army colonel De Renzie Brett.
Bombay - The settlement of Bombay Hills which is around 40 kilometers south of Auckland is directly named after the ship Bombay, which landed in Auckland and brought settlers to the area. The ship itself was named after the Indian city of Bombay (now Mumbai).