it's been a beautiful, bright, sunny day in hamilton. like summer has finally arrived. i was lucky enough to be invited today to a book launch. it was held at the gurdwara guru nanak devji, a new sikh temple being constructed just out of hamilton, in puketaha.
it's a lovely setting, out in the countryside, there must have been over 100 people there. i was invited by the author, mindho singh, who had researched the life of her grandfather. her writing journey started when she found some diaries and papers belonging to her grandfather, at the bottom of an old tin travelling trunk - indians will know exactly what i mean, but here's a picture:
these are still pretty common, particularly in villages.
so mindho found these papers, and it lead her to conduct in-depth research about the life of her grandfather, searching through archives and records. she said it was really difficult to find records of the early period, as punjabis who had migrated to nz were routinely just recorded as "singh". so she had to rely on verbal interviews and make some assumptions for the early chapters of the book.
the punjabi community has a long history in the waikato. i recall celebrating 100 years of their settlement here, back when lianne dalziel was minister of immigration i believe (or it might have been a few years earlier than that). they were mostly farmers back in the early days, involved in dairying.
mindho singh is herself a local legend. she organises events for the waikato punjabi ladies cultural committee, and they have a great fundraiser every year for breast cancer. i can tell you that these women definitely know how to have fun!
the reason i wanted to write about this event today is because this is a history of nz that isn't often visible, that isn't told in our tv programmes or our movies. but it's a history that needs to be recorded, shared and definitely celebrated. below is a picture of the book cover:
if you're interested in purchasing a copy, email mkbola21 at gmail dot com. and just to finish off, here's a picture of mindho, sandra mackenzie & myself enjoying the sunshine just before the event began.