The first Sikhs Garmeet Kaur, her husband Bhantu and his brother Bhagoo Singh came to Te Puke from the Punjab about sixty years ago. They lived in Manoeka Road and sharemilked on the Montgomery family dairy farm. Later after Bha-goo’s death the family moved to Malyon Street Te Puke, and their son Partap, who was a member of the local Masonic Lodge, had a greengrocery shop in Jelli-coe Street, Te Puke. Partap was killed in a car accident at a young age. Their children attended the local schools in Te Puke.
Baljeet Bath arrived in 1987 to work on a kiwifruit orchard. He became a con-tractor and later bought an orchard of his own. Relatives were sponsored out, many of them were farmers in the Punjab. Often the men came first, established themselves and brought their wives and children out some years later. They want-ed better opportunities for their children, as there are many well educated people at home who could not find employment. There were problems in India when in 1984, Indira Gandhi’s government forces stormed the Golden Temple at Amristar, the spiritual home of the Sikhs and this caused many Sikhs to leave for all round the world.
In Te Puke a packing shed in No 3 Road was purchased and work started in 2000 to convert it into a temple, a centre for Sikh worship and community life. Contributions came from all over the world, particularly from America, Canada and Australia. Some local churches gave donations. It is now a temple of which they can be proud and the President is Baljeet Bath.The artist of the pou pou is Dave Roy, the son of a Gurkha who has painted the mountains to represent the Himalayas. The metallic gold temple represents the Temple at Arnritsar below which the sand is the pathway or connection to New Zealand. The paua represents the ocean between the two countries. Te Puke is represented by the dark green hill and the red bam is typical of New Zealand farm buildings as most of the Sikhs who have settled here are involved in farm-ing or orchard work. They are a very valued work force in Te Puke.
To visit the Punjab with their families and introduce them to relatives and friends is a very special pleasure for these new citizens of New Zealand. Thousands of tourists visit the Punjab and enjoy beautiful highways and luxury hotels in this productive country.
Designed and Created by: Dave Roy
Contributed by: Kulwant Singh