Golden Bay students revel in Indian culture

A vibrant celebration featuring Rangoli art, the art of cooking curry, and invigorating Bharatanatyam dance marked the culmination of a two-month journey into the rich tapestry of Indian history and culture for Year 7 and 8 students at Golden Bay High School. In this article, Teacher Venini Tindling shares her insights into the significance of fostering cultural appreciation among students and reflects on why the school's Indian Culture Appreciation Day held a personal significance for her. The Asia New Zealand Foundation's Asia Initiative Fund supported the school's immersion into Indian culture.
A montage of three photos showing children cooking curry

Cooking (and eating) curry was a big hit with the students

In our small community of Golden Bay, while we may not have the bustling multiculturalism in larger cities of New Zealand, teachers at Golden Bay High School were determined to create opportunities for our rangatahi to learn about diverse cultures and the wider world.

Thanks to the generous support of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, we had the joy of celebrating Indian Cultural Appreciation Day at school, marking the exciting culmination of our two-month exploration into various aspects of Indian culture, history, art and language.

New Zealand’s relations with India go a long way back through cooperation and exchanges through sports, defence, health, education, art and research. Locally, the Indian community has been part of New Zealand’s heritage since the late 1700s and are today a huge part of community. It made sense to grow our students’ understanding of this dynamic Asian country that we share so many ties with.

Two boys making Rangoli  panterns on a playground using dye powder

"The rituals, cooking process, dance movements, and the meticulous Rangoli patterns all hold profound significance."

For the Indian Cultural Appreciation Day, members from the Arasan Trust in Dunedin were invited to run workshops for our students. These workshops included Indian cuisine, dance form and Rangoli art.

Students Amelia Harrison and Layla Roberts were among those who shared their thoughts about the cultural learning experience in the school newsletter.

“Three wonderful Indian women called Lohita, Carthika and Yaso volunteered to hold individual workshops and they were awesome!" said Amelie Harrison.

"Many people from India have come to live in New Zealand but they rarely settle down in Takaka. The cultural appreciation day gave us a chance to learn more about Indian culture.”

Layla Roberts said,  "I am really grateful that we had the privilege to be able to learn all about Indian culture, and now I can break the news to people that butter chicken isn't from India!” 

A woman in a sar addressing a group with a boy standing beside her

members from the Arasan Trust in Dunedin were invited to run workshops for our students

As someone from the South African Indian diaspora, the Indian Cultural Appreciation Day held special meaning for me. Seeing my students delve deeper into the traditions, customs, and values that are ingrained in my heritage filled me with pride and joy.

The event allowed many to appreciate the vibrant tapestry of Indian culture -- going beyond the surface level and challenging the Westernised ideas that sometimes prevail. The rituals, cooking process, dance movements, and the meticulous rangoli patterns all hold profound significance.

Events like that urge us to embark on a cultural exploration into the intricate threads that connect us to our roots and to one another. They serve as bridges that connect families, communities, and generations, fostering a deep sense of interconnectedness and unity.

I was also very proud of our students who demonstrated manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, kaitiakitanga, and wairuatanga to our guests, reinforcing the importance of cultural appreciation and understanding within our community.

The day was an amazing opportunity for students to experience local ethnic Indian culture and connect that with their learning about the country India. It reminded us that when we come together to appreciate and understand different cultures, we create a tapestry of inclusivity, respect, and shared experiences that enriches all.

To enlarge students’ perspective of the world, Golden Bay High School introduces students to a different Asian country each year, with a focus on learning, sharing and understanding how these cultures connect to Aotearoa and its people. Over the last few years, students have explored the cultures of Indonesia, Japan and now India.

The Foundation's education programme provides New Zealand educators with the knowledge, resources and experiences to equip their students to thrive in Asia.