Punjabi community marks milestone with Claudelands event
21st April, 2016

New Zealand's Punjabi community will celebrate 125 years in New Zealand this month with an event at Hamilton's Claudelands.

The sixth annual Vaisakhi Mela will be held in Claudelands Arena on Saturday 30 April, and starts at 6pm. Entry to the event is a gold coin with proceeds to charity.

Punjabi is an ethno-cultural group from Pakistan and India, and in New Zealand most are members of the Sikh or Hindu faiths.

Waikato Punjabi Cultural Club President Jay Randhawa says the club, which organises the annual event, opted to shift the event to Claudelands following the closure of Founders Theatre.

Mr Randhawa says the event is expected to attract a crowd of about 1500, and organisers "will be taking it up a notch" with the shift to Claudelands.

Features of the event include Punjabi cultural dances such as Bhangra and Gidda – performed by children and adults  -  Punjabi music, food, an introduction on the history of Punjabis in New Zealand and the release of a short film.

Punjabi events are known for colour and passion, particularly in the costumes and clothing worn by performers and attendees.

"The turbans worn by Sikhs carry significant cultural and religious values signifying their pride," Mr Randhawa says. "Punjab is a colourful state and our costumes reflect our rich culture!"
Meanwhile, other Hamilton event changes have been announced following the Founders Theatre closure in February.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has announced three changes, with performances moving to Claudelands.

They are:

  • Scheherazade, 24 June
  • Swing Into Spring, 8 September
  • Mozart & Elgar, 3 November

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is expected to make announcements about its Strauss performance (August) and Bold Worlds performance (October) at a later date.

The Ten Tenors performance scheduled for Founders has been relocated to Tauranga's Baycourt Theatre on 28 May. Ticket holders for the Founders performance can have tickets transferred to the Tauranga show, and these can be collected from Hamilton i-SITE. Alternatively, ticket holders can obtain a full refund.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet's performance of Giselle, scheduled for Founders Theatre in September, has been cancelled, and ticket holders will be refunded by Ticketek. The show will now be presented at the Rotorua Civic Theatre and Auckland's Aotea Centre, with tickets obtained from TicketMaster.

Founders Theatre management apologises for inconvenience caused by event changes and cancellations.