Six local figures were recognised in the New Year’s Honours list.
Olympian and World Champion shot-putter Valerie Adams was made a Dame. Triathlete Cameron Brown, health services proponent Ranjna Patel, and shareholders’ advocate Bruce Sheppard were appointed Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit, while former hockey international Katie Glynn and table tennis champion Chunli Li were made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
The Times will publish a profile of each recipient and feature a short Q&A over the coming weeks.
Ranjna Patel was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for her service to health and the Indian community.
Winner of many awards including the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Diversity Awards, Walk the Talk Award, 2014, Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs, 2014 and Queen’s Service Medal, New Year 2009, the 61-year-old Pakuranga resident has been the driving force behind the expansion of Nirvana Health Group, one of New Zealand’s largest Primary Health networks, which she and her husband started as a sole GP practice in 1977.
The Nirvana Health Group now serves as an umbrella company for more than 30 medical clinics servicing 190,000 registered patients from predominantly lower socio-economic communities.
Mrs Patel has chaired the South Asian Leadership Group and is a member of the Counties Manukau South Asian Police Advisory Board, Commissioner’s Ethnic Focus Forum, the Middlemore Foundation Board, Kootuitui ki Papakura Trust, Global Women and Co.OfWomen.
She has taken an active role in early intervention for family violence prevention, working closely with New Zealand Police on a unique project called Ghandi Nivas, which offers counselling and temporary accommodation for family violence perpetrators.
She has held ministerial appointments to the national Advisory Council on the Employment of Women and the Lottery Auckland Distribution Committee.
Mrs Patel is a trustee of International Swaminarayan Satsang Organisation (ISSO) and ISSO Seva, which provides programmes for seniors, youth and the community.
The Times asked her five questions last week.
Q. Who was the first person you told about receiving this honour and why them?
A. I was quite surprised when I received the letter in September and didn’t tell anyone. My husband saw the letter and was absolutely delighted and happy for me. After I accepted, it was hard to keep the secret, but we decided not to tell anyone.
Q. What does the ONZM mean to you?
A. To me personally, it is an acknowledgment for the work I do but it is shared with all the people at Nirvana Health Group and the many communities I work with; in particular the amazing people involved with Gandhi Nivas – the Sahaayta team, New Zealand Police and Total Healthcare.
Q. Does receiving this award change anything for you, does it push you to strive for more?
A. Nothing changes on a day-to-day basis. To me the award has shown me I have been very privileged in my life to be able to serve and accomplish many different things at work, for women empowerment, for family violence and yes, it will give me the confidence to pursue other challenges.
Q. How did you celebrate the announcement?
A. We celebrated as a family for breakfast and then at the temple in the evening with about 800 people. Seeing someone in the community get an award makes everyone proud.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received and how did you take it on board?
A. In business, my husband said, take care of the patient and the business will look after itself. With the patient at the centre of all our thinking, the business has taken care of itself. And what I have learned is values should be the core of everything you do.