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Senior idols inspire younger generation


For the second year in a row, the New Zealand Senior Indian Idol took place at the Shanti Niwas’ Charitable Trust headquarters in Onehunga. The closely-contested singing competition was part of a free event in October to celebrate the International Day of the Older Person. 


Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust is a non-profit organisation, which for the past 24 years has worked with senior citizens of Indian and South Asian origin in the Auckland region, to ensure they are valued and treasured by society. Their mission is to provide culturally appropriate aged-care services, along with social, emotional, educational, physical and spiritual support for the wellbeing of older people.

Shanti Niwas’ general manager, Nilima Venkat, says that the biggest issue for the seniors is social isolation. Many arrive as immigrants to look after their grandchildren, but they are often in their 70’s, and find it difficult to learn the language, and adapt to the New Zealand culture. She says coming to Shanti Niwas is, “like a rehab for them.”

The popular event, which took place outside in uncharacteristically sunny spring weather, featured cultural dances and singing, henna and face painting, a photo booth, food stalls, and health and well-being stalls. Almost 600 hundred people passed through on the day, including MP for Maungakiekie-Tāmaki, Denise Lee, Councillor Josephine Bartley, Local Board member Don Allan and Labour list MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan, who is based in Maungakiekie.

Nilimi says that the first signing idol event took place last year, and proved to be so popular that they want to make it an annual event. More than 50 people auditioned this year, culminating in 12 finalists. She explained that they sang mostly “old” Bollywood songs from the 50’s and 60’s to live music.

“It’s so inspiring for the younger generation,” she says. “They are not trained singers; to stand up on the stage, and go on and sing, and it builds the confidence of the older people. There were a lot of grandchildren here to support their grandparents, and they were very inspired by them. They didn’t know their grandparents could sing.”

Nilimi says the Trust would like to acknowledge the support given by the  Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board, and Mercuty Energy.







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