|NEW ZEALAND'S FIRST GURUDWARA |
The New Zealand Sikh Society was founded on 3 October 1964, with Balwant Singh Nagra elected as the first president. A year later, Karam Singh Basi, on the behalf of the Country Section, presented the the Sikh Society with a copy of Guru Granth Sahib.
It was crucial that a Gurudwara be built in New Zealand, if the sikh faith in New Zealand was to be securely established. Five acres of land near Te Rapa, Hamilton was purchased by the Society, but the District Council opposed building application.
Finally in September 1976, Kuldeep Singh Thandi, Harbans Singh Randhawa, Joala Singh Belling, Phuman Singh Ark and Bachitter Kaur laid a foundation stone. A year later, the Gurudwara was opened on 19 May 1977. This impressive structure, with its gleming minaret, sited on flat green pastures in the Waikato, evoked much curiosity from travellers along the main State Highway 1 in the 1970's.
Of much more revelance to local Punjabis was that it provided a custom-built space not only for religious but also for community activities. The links between Te Rapa Gurudwara and other New Zealand Indians was highlighted when it was opened by Gulabbahi Moral, president of NZICA.