Sanjiv Kohli, the outgoing High Commissioner of India to New Zealand was formally farewelled at an evening function in Wellington on Monday.
The India New Zealand Business Council organised event was hosted at the Whitireia and Weltec Te Auaha NZ Institute of Creativity’s beautiful new facility in downtown Wellington.
Former New Zealand Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand was the chief guest and spoke glowingly of Mr Kohli’s stewardship of the High Commission during his three-year tenure.
From just about 2,000 in 1951, the number of Indians had grown almost to 200,000, Mr Satyanand said, commending the Indian diaspora for their hard work and rich contribution to “academia, the professions, business and work in public life that has benefited others.”
Over the fifty years that the High Commission has been in existence in New Zealand, the India-New Zealand relationship had grown considerably and the leadership of successive High Commissioners was instrumental in fostering close bonds, he said.
In forming strong linkages with the community and helping out in difficult times, the former Governor General and former chair of the Commonwealth Foundation said he would remember Mr Kohli’s “wonderful contribution” to the office of the High Commissioner.
Grahame Morton, NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade’s Principal Adviser, Asia and Americas said Mr Kohli had achieved success in “all five Cs” – Community, Consular leadership, Communication, Country representation and Commercial and political leadership. Mr Morton is a former NZ High Commissioner to India.
He said he was impressed by the trust the community had reposed in Mr Kohli and the “support you so quickly earned.” He praised Mr Kohli’s personal qualities like humility, honesty and his “straight shooting,” which earned him great respect. He recalled Mr Kohli’s deft handling of the Indian student crisis.
Andrew Needs, MFAT’s Divisional Manager for South/South East Asia praised Mr Kohli’s clarity and strength with which he dealt with the demands of his office. He commended the contribution of both Mr Kohli and his wife saying they made a “great team.”
Mr Needs also credited Mr Kohli with “finding a new permanent home for the Indian High Commission in Wellington,” through the new building that is under way and congratulated him on the establishment of the consulate in Auckland, a long-standing demand of the Indian diaspora in Auckland.
Mr Kohli responded in his characteristic informal extempore style, peppering his brief speech with an anecdote here and a joke there. He said that he was impressed by the NZ foreign ministry’s people and their style of work and said there was much to learn from it.
The second issue of INZBC’s quarterly India-NZ trade magazine Kia Ora India was also launched at the occasion.
Earlier, Whitireia and Weltec Chief Executive Chris Gosling addressed the gathering and INZBC Chair Sameer Handa gave the welcome address. Honorary Consul of India for Auckland and Northland Bhav Dhillon delivered the vote of thanks, once again commending the outgoing High Commissioner for his memorable stint in New Zealand.
Moira Hagenson, Weltec and Whitireia’s General Manager International was the Master of Ceremonies.