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In recent decades, the business of media has not been easy; the business of ethnic media, infinitely harder. Especially in a small, thinly populated country like New Zealand.

It is therefore with much satisfaction that we celebrate twelve years of Indian Weekender. In the years since launch in 2009, Indian Weekender has grown from a fortnightly news magazine to a sprightly weekly, with its continuously updated online avatar being one of the highest followed ethnic media platforms in New Zealand. It has expanded into multi-social platforms and branched out into community-centric digital products and services like digital event ticketing, ticketbazaar.com.

Importantly, Indian Weekender has built a substantial platform to recognise and celebrate the achievements of Kiwi-Indians and Kiwi-Indian community organisations and institutions in Aotearoa New Zealand in the form of the annual Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame awards, the eighth edition of which takes place tonight. The Kiwi-Indian Hall of Fame is easily the biggest Indian Diaspora event in Australasia today.

Continuous innovation and creativity centered around the information needs of Kiwi-Indians are key ingredients of Indian Weekender’s success story in an ethnic media landscape that has virtually no institutional support, unlike migrant media outlets in other multicultural OECD countries like neighbouring Australia, for instance.

With no institutional support and free-for-use platforms, the business model for ethnic media in New Zealand depends solely upon advertising – an avenue that is not always dependable especially in uncertain times. The ongoing pandemic is a case in point. With the lockdowns and the sharp downturn in business and demand, advertising all but dried up forcing several community news outlets to shut down or work with severely reduced outputs.

Some ceased publication and took their content solely online, while others simply shut shop. Indian Weekender, however, never ceased to publish throughout the pandemic except during the Alert Levels 3 & 4 lockdowns, when it was difficult to distribute the print editions, but we were fully operational online, with our teams working from home – at times round the clock.

The pandemic showed us that we were more than a trusted media outlet to our constituents. Our team worked shoulder to shoulder with community workers in relief activities and helped provide a range of services to Kiwi-Indians in need (see separate story in this edition).

Rather than being bogged down by the pandemic, the Indian Weekender team melded our native Indian ingenuity with Kiwi No. 8 innovativeness to reinvent our news and content offering by strengthening our online content.

We added video news bulletins detailing pandemic updates relevant to Kiwi-Indians especially around issues of immigration and the Vande Bharat repatriation flights; worked with the High Commission of India in Wellington and the Consulate here in Auckland to put out the latest information on a range of matters.

We also added innovative new video content like a series titled “Kya Hora New Zealand” where we profiled dozens of Kiwi-Indians about their life, their work, their art, achievements – even down to talking to freshly minted parents whose babies were born in the thick of the lockdown.

By not just surviving but thriving and growing during such challenging times as the pandemic, Indian Weekender metaphorises the creativity, professional work ethic and earnestness of most Kiwi-Indians and migrants who always have had to work harder to succeed in their adopted countries.

The following that we command, the affection that we are shown and the confidence we enjoy from Kiwi-Indians in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond is certainly gratifying is what keeps us spurring on to achieve bigger and better.

But it is that much harder to achieve bigger and better without the institutional support that’s available to our peers in other comparable nations. Aotearoa New Zealand is set to grow as an extremely vibrant, multicultural nation in which a strong multicultural media landscape could play a vital role in fostering better understanding. In our own small way, we believe Indian Weekender has broken a path in this direction.

First appeared in The Indian Weekender dated 16 June 2021.