May 10, 2021

TangataWhenua.com

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Hindu conference promotes Hindu-Maori views of health

4 min read

The second Wellington Region Hindu Conference was held at the Waiwhetu Marae, Lower Hutt, on 9th April 2011. The theme of the conference was Hindu-Maori Perspectives on Holistic Health: From Individual and Whanau to Community. The conference was organised by the Wellington chapter of the Hindu Council of New Zealand, Inc. (HCNZ) in cooperation with the Waiwhetu Marae.

Maori hosts and Hindu manuhiri got together at the conference in the spirit of the Arohanui ki te Tangata (Goodwill to all Men) and Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam (World is one Family) at the Marae. The two ancient cultures discussed the great amount of similarity in their worldview towards humankind, nature and environment.

The conference participants were welcomed by Kaumatua Te Rira Puketapu whose depth of knowledge about cultures and history made a deep impression on the participants. Mr Pancha Narayanan, a member of Community Sector Task Force, led the local Hindu community members and delegates in the Powhiri. Wellington Sanskrit Pathshala did the waiata during the powhiri.

Participants included local Iwi, Hindus from New Zealand and overseas, and Government Ministers, parliamentarians, officials, and representatives from the voluntary sectors.

The conference was inaugurated by Hon. Peter Dunne, Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister of Health. Appreciating the work of community-based organisations, Mr Dunne said these organisations were utilising traditional medical wisdom to fill in the gap where the Government was struggling to supply healthcare needs. He also welcomed such initiatives where communities came together to look for common grounds to share their time-tested knowledge.

In this spirit, the tradition of Rongoa Maori (Maori herbal medicine) was described by Mr. Jonas Malamanche of the Waiwhetu Marae, the Hindu practice of Yoga and its scientific basis was elaborated by the renowned Yoga scholar Dr. H. R. Nagendra, Vice chancellor of the SVYASA university, India, and Ayurveda (Hindu medicinal system) was explained by Mrs. Prajakta Sapre from Palmerston North. Dr. Raj Vinod Anand, practicing GP and member of the Art of Living Foundation, emphasized that the goal of medicinal systems should be holistic health, and to this end different medical systems should all be a part of the mainstream. Dr. Vijay Senan, practicing Psychiatrist, described specific ways in which traditional health practices can be used to supplement and enhance the modern Healthcare system.

Based on these deliberations, it was decided to follow up the Ministry of Health to get official recognition for the Hindu system of Yoga as an alternative therapy. AROGYA (a division of HCNZ) has been offering yoga and pranayam classes in various suburbs of Wellington, and now has plans to train instructors to address the growing popularity of these classes.

Mr Paul Quinn, Member of Parliament representing National Party, read out a statement by Hon. Hekia Parata, Minister of Ethnic Affairs. Her statement stressed on reducing the negative stereotyping of ethnic communities by mainstream media. According to Ms Parata, there should be an alliance of civilizations in New Zealand, and cross cultural research will be a key factor towards achieving that goal.

Mr. Trevor Mallard, Member of Parliament representing Labour Party, had an interesting take on the word community, where the key to understanding the concept of community lay in its last part: unity.

Ms. Ann Dysart of the Ministry of Social Development, in her note to the conference raised concerns over the stereotyping of communities. Ms Dysart also brought focus on the abuses that continue to happen in some migrant families. She emphasised that this needs to be addressed as an urgent priority to support a healthy family and community. She stressed on non judgmental approaches for addressing these issues to help reduce incidents of women and children abuse.

In addition to main conference theme, two very successful sessions on Healthy families and communities, and Rituals and their NZ adaptations surrounding death in the Hindu communities were highlights of this conference. Outcomes from these sessions will be shared with the wider community in near future.

Dr Rajiv Chaturvedi, Public Relations officer of Hindu Council of New Zealand, spoke about the wrongs caused by classifying Hindu dharma as faith or religion. Dr Guna Magesan, General Secretary discussed the plans for the future. Ms Ritu Arora was Master of Ceremonies.

Hindu Council of New Zealand takes this opportunity to thank the Arohanui ki te Tangata Marae (Waiwhetu marae) for the warm hospitality, the catering team, all volunteers from Wellington and other cities for making this conference a successful and productive. Special thanks to Mrs. Riri Trivedi from Singapore for conducting yoga sessions for children and young adults.

For more information regarding the activities of Hindu Council of New Zealand in Wellington area, please contact Dr Rajiv Chaturvedi by email: [email protected]

For yoga and health workshops run by AROGYA Wellington, please contact Mr Ram Bharadwaj: [email protected]

Photo captions:

  1. Hindu Maori Health session presenters (from Left to Right): Mrs. Prajakta Sapre, Mr. Jonas Malamanche, Dr. H. R. Nagendra, Dr. Vijay Senan, and Dr. Raj Vinod Anand.
  2. Some Maori performers with the conference organisers

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