Shining a light on diversity

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Ashburton is known for having one of the most culturally diverse communities in New Zealand, with increases in migrant populations attracted by rural job markets.

The Ashburton Indian Multicultural Charitable Trust (AIMCT ) recently celebrated their office opening, attended by Ashburton District Mayor Neil Brown, and Rangitata Labour MP Jo Luxton.

Founded twelve years ago, the AIMCT aims to unite different communities within Ashburton and honour traditions that have strong cultural significance to these communities.

In March this year the trust planned to host the Ashburton Holi Festival of Colours which traditionally celebrates spring and love, but due to the spread of Omicron the festival was postponed.

Trust event co-ordinator Silky Sharma said covid had a big impact on the events the group planned to host.

Over the years the trust had organised other Indian festivities such as Diwali, Lohri, and Garba, but this year are hoping other cultures will share their events. want to connect people,” Silky said.

“Due to covid, people are feeling isolated and then it can affect them  because they can’t go to back home, so providing them an environment where they can come and meet other people, intermingle with other communities…this is our main goal now.”

The trust has plans to host a fashion show toward the end of winter, which will not only represent traditional Indian dress, but also Pacifika dress, dance and language.

They would also like to introduce Bollywood dance classes and authentic cooking classes to Ashburton, encouraging people to try something new.

While these and many more cultural activities will continue to evolve within Ashburton, Silky said the Ashburton Indian Multicultural Trust was not just about events.

“People can also talk to us on other problems, like if anybody has any visa issue,” she said.

“We want to create a Trust that people trust…so we can work more for them.”

The trust encouraged people to get in touch if they have any feedback or wish to get involved.

“Anything related to their community they can come and talk to us.”

For more information email ashindiangroup@nullyahoo.co.nz.

-By Indi Roberts