Home' Greymouth Star : January 31st 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
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With India set to become the world’s fastest growing member of the ‘big economies’ in the
next few years, more Indians than ever are choosing to travel overseas for holidays, and to
study. Reporter BEN AULAKH caught up with those who have chosen to take the next
step and make Greymouth their home, putting Indian faces behind some of the town’s most
rom Hyderabad to Punjab, Kolkata
to Tamil Nadu, a greater number of
Indians from across the sub-continent
are being drawn to Greymouth by job
opportunities, and the peaceful West
Whether you are grabbing a quick
bite to eat at Domino’s Pizza or Revingtons Hotel,
filling up with petrol at the Z service station, buying
a bottle of wine at Super Liquor, bread and milk
from the Tainui Discounter, or having an operation
at Grey Base Hospital, the chances are that you will
have encountered a member of the town’s burgeoning
Chef Kunal Muhkerjee, who hails from the east
Indian state of Bengal, has only been in Greymouth
for a couple of months. He arrived in New Zealand
in 2006, working firstly in the hospitality sector in the
North Island, before moving south.
“The boss here (at Revingtons) had a restaurant in
Christchurch also ... and they just suddenly needed
a chef here so that ’s why I came here a couple of
Mr Mukherjee landed in town with an impressive
resume, having worked at the Hyatt Regency five-
star hotel in Kolkata, and at a restaurant belonging
to perhaps one of India’s best-known chefs, Sanjeev
In Greymouth, his employer, Revingtons, is also now
in Indian hands.
Domino’s Pizza recently brought two former
students to fill the roles of manager and assistant
manager at the Greymouth franchise.
Jagmit Singh Gill and his friend Amrit Palsingh
(KD), had both studied in Tauranga before moving to
the Coast at the end of last year. Both hailed from the
northern Indian state of Punjab, home to the majority
of India’s Sikh population.
“I was working in a Domino’s (in Tauranga), as an
assistant manager. I was applying for jobs as a store
manager, and they needed a manager over here at the
Greymouth store, and they gave me an opportunity,”
Mr Gill said.
Mr Palsingh finished studying in Tauranga in
April 2013, and while studying he had worked on a
kiwifruit farm, then again when he got his one-year
work visa after he graduated. He started working
as a delivery driver in Tauranga, then shifted to
Palmerston North to Domino’s. Then a few months
back Mr Gill called his friend and asked him to move
to Greymouth due to the shortage of experienced
people locally who could fill the assistant manager’s
“ We need full-time staff to work an open or close
shift,” Mr Gill said. “It ’s hard to find staff ... if we hire
someone they work just part-time for a few hours,
they work after 5pm, or in the
morning they have school.”
Another from Punjab,
Simarjeet Singh, also moved
to Greymouth in the past
few months, to take the site
manager’s job at the busy Z
Mr Singh had spent three
years working at another Z
station in Richmond, after
graduating with a business
management diploma from
his studies in Auckland.
“After study I got a one-
year job search visa during
related to my study. I needed
a job as a manager to get residency, so I got two years’
experience first in this field. Then my boss gave me a
chance to manage this place.”
Mr Singh said he was happy with his move to
Greymouth, “because I am on my own in this country,
so it doesn’t matter if I move to any place”.
Another route young Indians are taking to
Greymouth is through Indian-owned businesses
which have been established in the town for some
Ramesh Alla and his family,
originally from the southern
Indian city of Hyderabad, own
the popular Indian restaurant,
Priya, which was set up by
his uncle, as well as the Super
He said he hired Indian staff
at the restaurant, who were
from different parts of India,
because they “need to know
their way around Indian food”.
“They have a basic knowledge
of Indian food and they can
explain to the customer if they
have a question.”
Some of the staff he employs
at Priya in the evenings, also
work during the day at the liquor store.
Mr Alla also said he had noticed more Indians in
Greymouth in the past couple of years, something he
“It ’s good to have a community here, you feel more
Punjabi businessman Sunny Singh Bal is also
bringing Indian staff to the Coast, after opening his
cut-price dairy, the Tainui Discounter, last year.
One of his staff was a fellow Punjabi, Jagdeep Singh.
Mr Bal, who had previously set up a dairy in
Westport a year ago, said a number of reasons
influenced his decision to invest in business on the
“It was opportunity as well as geography. I was
passing through to look at the sites here ... and the
place was beautiful.”
Another big employer has addressed its need for
skilled staff by also looking overseas. Over the past
two years, the West Coast District Health Board has
employed three full-time consultant anaesthetists at
Grey Base Hospital. All three hail from India.
One of those, Dr Raviraj Raveendran, from the
southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, had worked in
Canada for three years before moving to the West
Coast last July with his wife Sangeeta and their
two children, to fill a vacancy in the anaesthetic
Dr Raveendran said he was filling a role which had
been left vacant over time by homegrown doctors.
“The vacancy is because local New Zealand
anaesthetists are not willing to work (here) - they
always have a shortage here.”
Fellow anaesthetist, Dr Jagat Aulakh, originally from
the northern Indian state of Punjab, moved to the
Coast in November 2012 after a 25-year career in the
health service in the United Kingdom.
“I had retired, and I wanted to do something
different. I was looking in various parts of the world,
and the anaesthetic department found me through an
agency I was registered with.”
Dr Aulakh said that in the two years he had been
working in Greymouth, he had seen more Indians
living and working in Greymouth.
“It always helps to have some sort of connection
in a new place. It is nice to see a more multicultural
environment. It’s not as if I have seen dozens, but I
have seen more doing various jobs.”
Recent figures from the Government show that the
trend of more Indians coming to New Zealand is
set to continue, with the number who came to study
in the country increasing by 60% in the first eight
months of 2014, compared to 2013. Government
estimates show those students would have spent $433
million on fees and living costs.
Feroz Ali, chairman of Independent Tertiary
Institutions, which represents 14 education
companies, said he expected the growth trend to
“I’m expecting it to grow at a similar level to 2014
and that’s due to several factors ... the New Zealand
dollar where it is (and) more importantly, there’s the
right incentives in place for attracting students to
Those incentives include the ability to get a job-
seeker visa and potentially qualify for residency.’’
Simarjeet Gill, filling up at the Greymouth
Z ser vice station.
Tainui Discounter employee Jagdeep Singh.
Super Liquor owner Ramesh Alla stocks up the shelves.
Greymouth Domino’s manager Jagmit Gill, left, and assistant manager Amrit Palsingh.
Revingtons Hotel chef Kunal Mukherjee cooks up a storm during the lunch rush.
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