Bay’s Nepalese community mark momentous climb

Last year’s event to commemorate Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbing Mount Everest. Photo: Bhupal K Gurung/Supplied.

Bay of Plenty’s Nepalese community is gearing up to celebrate the relationship between Nepal and New Zealand – and they’re inviting Kiwis to join them this Sunday, May 29.

International Everest Day is an initiative to commemorate the anniversary of the ascent of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953, by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

“We want to pay respect to these two legends,” says Non-Resident Nepali Association vice president Bhakta Siwahang. “They succeeded in climbing the highest mountain and making a relationship between our countries, so it’s our duty to acknowledge that.”

The Nepalese people have a long-standing relationship with NZ thanks to Sir Ed. This year, the anniversary of the record-setting climb 69 years ago is being commemorated with an event this Sunday, May 29, from 4pm at Papamoa Sports & Recreation Centre.

“We’ve invited local dignitaries. There will be short speeches, performances and then attendees will enjoy a typical Nepalese meal,” says Bhakta. “Our food is similar to Indian cuisine, so we’ll be cooking daal, curry, lamb and chicken curry with pickles.”

He estimates around 600 Nepalese people live in the Bay of Plenty. “We try to hold onto our culture, but I can see a lot is getting lost,” says Bhakta.

“I have been here for 20 years and still speak Nepalese as well as my own ethnic language, Rai, which is one of the native languages spoken in east Nepal. My three boys were born here in NZ and just speak English. We want to show the next generation our culture.”

The International Everest Day celebration at Papamoa is expected to attract more than 200 people, making it one of the larger gatherings in the country. The main event is being attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Parliament on Tuesday, May 31.




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