Early in the late 1970s, there were few Indian families living in South Auckland. They were mainly Gujaratis and Punjabis. The families were all scattered all around various suburbs of Mangere, Papatoetoe, Otahuhu, Manurewa, Papakura etc, mainly in South Auckland. A need was felt by these people to get together, for social and community occasions. There was also a compelling sense of teaching mother tongue languages, Gujarati and Punjabi to the Kiwi Indian children.
In 1979, a group of mainly Gujaratis and some Punjabis started to get together to form some sort of close knit community activities and decided to start at least the educational process for the young generation. This prompted the move to hire the classrooms at the Papatoetoe Central Primary school on weekends to start teaching the language and culture to the children.
While the children were in classes, the parents played games and got to know each other closely and a sense of community spirit evolved. Manukau? The name was relatively unknown during that time and the area of current Manukau was bare land without any shopping centres, car yards, and houses.
In 1980 this movement of parents gained momentum and the group registered themselves as “South Auckland Indian Cultural Society Incorporated”. As the name implies, the main purpose of the society was to preserve and promote our culture and heritage and pass onto the new generation.
Donations were raised and a freehold property was purchased at “25 Tui Road, Papatoetoe “in 1980, which is still our headquarters for all activities.
Officially, the incorporated society was registered in 1981 as South Auckland Indian Cultural Society. The main activities of the society were to celebrate the festivals such as Navratri, Janmashtami, RamNavami, Holi, Diwali and India’s Independence Day-15 August. Gujarat, Hindi and Punjabi classes were held regularly for a number of years at this centre. These classes are still operating and anyone interested in sending their children are welcome.
Every year, during the Diwali period, Cultural and Entertainment concerts were held and members attended these functions in large numbers. When the Diwali shows were held at various school halls, such as at Otahuhu, Papatoetoe and Town hall, the local kiwi people were also invited and they were quite amazed to see the colours and richness of our culture and traditions.
With the advent of time and increase in population in south Auckland, Manukau name started to become more familiar and in 1997, the society changed its name to current name of Manukau Indian Association Inc.
Manukau Indian Association has been particularly very active in raising the profile of Indian people and empowering them.
They have been associated/affiliated to New Zealand Indian Central Association and has been taking active part in deliberations on all issues concerning Indians.
Our logo says MIA empowering NZ Indians. This has been truly translated in action. IN 2005 and previous years, we were trying hard to get Mayor of Manukau to come to Manukau Indian Associations invitation for their programs. The Mayor and the council did not acknowledge and did not have the courtesy to even reply to the invitation. They were hard to contact and communicate. But now, it is other way. Mayor and the council support the Manukau Indian Association in all activities, Diwali program and even agreed to give the new premises to us. It has been a complete turnaround and we feel it is a result of our visibility activities.
Manukau Indian Association has been holding regular annual programs/concerts for Diwali and other festivals such as Navratri. They have a very active executive committee for a number of years.
The new premises are very spacious- can accommodate about 200 persons. The hall will be available for hire to all community members for their personal functions such as birthday parties, 21st parties, to organisations to conduct their activities such as yoga classes, art of living programs, Bollywood exercise programs, Swasth Jeevan health programs etc.