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The 104-year-old Auckland Indian Association Inc. (AIAI) witnessed history unfold on Sunday
as Puspa Lekinwala was elected as its first-ever woman president. The election, held at the
Mahatma Gandhi Centre on March 24, saw Lekinwala securing her position unopposed,
marking a significant milestone in the association’s long-standing legacy.

Lekinwala, a stalwart in the Auckland Indian community known for her unwavering
dedication and selfless service expressed her profound gratitude upon assuming the
prestigious role. In an exclusive interview with Indian Weekender, she shared her
sentiments, saying, “I am humbled and honoured to be the first woman to be President of
AIA in 104 years.”

Lekinwala’s journey with the Auckland Indian Association traces back to her childhood,
where her deep-rooted connection began at the age of five. From attending Gujarati school
to joining AIAI’s inaugural women’s hockey team, her involvement burgeoned over the
years, leading her to serve on numerous committees, including the 50-plus years old Mahila
Samaj.

Reflecting on the prevailing societal biases, Lekinwala said it is the transformative power of
education, experience, and knowledge that has empowered Indian women to transcend
traditional roles. “Indian women have generally held positions of wifehood and
motherhood, and that bias has remained,” she remarked. “It is through education,
experience, and knowledge that Indian women are now taking roles that have been male-
dominated.”

Lekinwala outlined her vision for the AIAI under her leadership, prioritising unity, diversity,
teamwork, and the active involvement of youth and women. “My tasks will be to bring
unity, promote diversity, enhance teamwork, and encourage new experiences and
knowledge,” she said. “I aim to continue building on past accomplishments of the AIAI, have
more youth activities, and invite youth to attend association events.”

Describing her multifaceted contributions to the Association and the broader community,
Lekinwala’s profile exemplifies her lifelong commitment to service. With a remarkable
tenure spanning over three decades within the AIAI’s Executive Committee, including roles
as Assistant Secretary and Vice-President, she has left an indelible mark on the
organisation’s ethos and operations.

Beyond her involvement with the Association, Lekinwala’s extensive engagement extends to
various community initiatives, including her role as a Board Member of the Mahatma
Gandhi Charitable Trust and her dedicated service to the Mahila Samaj for nearly 40 years.
As a testament to her exemplary service, Lekinwala was granted life membership of the
Association in 2024, acknowledging her invaluable contributions to the community. Her
tireless efforts have been recognised on multiple fronts, including her role as Master of
Ceremonies for numerous events and her involvement with the New Zealand Indian Central
Association (NZICA), where she was granted life membership in 2014.

Lekinwala’s illustrious career spans various professional and volunteer roles, including her
tenure as a Legal Executive for a prestigious law firm and her current endeavor as a business

owner. Her commitment to community welfare extends to her roles as a Justice of Peace
and Marriage Celebrant, where she has served diligently for over three decades.
Despite her numerous accolades and achievements, Lekinwala remains modest, driven by a
genuine desire to serve her community. Her remarkable journey exemplifies the
transformative power of dedication, perseverance, and a steadfast commitment to fostering
positive change.

As Puspa Lekinwala assumes her role as AIAI’s first woman president, she embarks on a
historic chapter poised to shape the organisation's future and inspire generations to come.
Outgoing President Dhansukh Lal will continue for a year as Immediate Past President, a
newly created position to ensure efficient continuity in the Association’s tasks and
programmes. Lal congratulated Lekinwala on her new role and shared details of her team.
President: Puspa Lekinwala; Vice President: Barwant Bhikha; General Secretary: Champa
Patel; 1st Assistant Secretary: Vanita Patel; 2nd Assistant Secretary: Kalyan Rao Kasuganti;
Treasurer: Bhavisha Patel; Assistant Treasurer: Pravin Hira.

First appeared in the 25 March 2024 edition of the Indian Weekender.
https://www.indianweekender.co.nz/news/puspa-lekinwala-makes-history-as-auckland-indian-associations-first-female-president