Bangladesh New Zealand Friendship Society Inc (BNZFS/Society) is the Bangladeshi Community in New Zealand established in 1991. It is mainly a membership-based, non-profit, charitable organization, having no affiliation to any political parties in Bangladesh or in New Zealand. It is a voluntary association of individuals formed for promoting and practising Bangladeshi and New Zealand’s social, cultural, educational, literary, religious and other activities. The organization is efficiently run by an elected Executive Committee who puts a lot of efforts in their own time to achieve the goals and objectives of BNZFS. BNZFS is operating all its activities and programs through its office from 3 Rowe Street, Onehunga, Auckland, New Zealand.
Since its inception, BNZFS has been working with Bangladeshi community to help Bangladeshi migrants adjust to ever-changing environment of Aotearoa. Such an effort has paid off members and stakeholders are contributing significantly to the New Zealand economy.
Further, over the years BNZFS has been providing advocacy services to its members, non-members, other migrants communities, and general public according to their needs. BNZFS also plays roles as advisory agency to the government, local bodies, councils and other agencies, to improve the quality of lives of Bangladeshis, migrants and other community members in New Zealand. BNZFS also provides various services to its members and non-members including but not limited to community development, publication, radio and audio-visual programmes, research on migrant communities, training, educational programs, workshops, awareness programs, language schools, health and economic programs, relief and welfare programmes, supporting trade and business communities to expand the business and other entrepreneurships, climate change, volunteering and philanthropic activities. Members of BNZFS have been relentlessly working to assist new Bangladeshi migrants and their successive generations, workers and students to adjust to New Zealand way of life through different interventions, programs and activities. In times of crisis both in Bangladesh and New Zealand, BNZFS has always endeavoured to raise awareness and has contributed in helping the affected people through direct involvement.
BNZFS has been conducting a number of programs and activities over several years, some of such programs and activities include a) Bilingual Newsletter and magazine (Ayojon), b) Community Radio Program (Radio Ektara) and audio-visual programs, c) Bangla Library (currently planning to go on virtual library, d) Linguistic services including Bangla School and Bangla to Speakers of Other Languages (BSOL), e) Volunteering Program and f) CMRD (Centre of Migrant Research and Development). CMRD has been entrusted with the responsibility to conduct research, survey and cross-sectional studies to assess and undersand the types of services that BNZFS can provide to the wider community. Evidence-based research also helps the BNZFS to act in the advisory role to the government and other agencies about the needs of any particular services. CMRD also arrange different training and workshop programs (e.g. training on Auto-CAD, photoshop and basic computer skills, Women Empowerment, youth mentoring programs, computer skills, driving tests preparation, career development and health livings) to help the participants acquire requisite skills to live independently and contribute to the wider community in New Zealand.
One of our goals is to bring a taste of our beloved country and foster unity among the Bangladeshi community living in New Zealand and other migrant and local communities by organizing various regular and ad-hoc community activities. I the social and cultural space, the BNZFS has been celebrating various events of significance ensuring multicultural participants. Some of the events are a) Independence Day and Victory Day of Bangladesh, b) International Mother Language Day, c) ANZAC Day, d) Waitangi Day and f) Bengali New Year. BNZFS also arranges various religious festivals, annual camping for members and non-members, various sports programs and despatches volunteers to different multicultural activities.
Bangladesh New Zealand Friendship Society (BNZFS) Inc. is committed to provide an advancement and assistance in prospects for Bangladeshis residing in New Zealand which fosters Bangladeshi culture, language and self-respect, provides a supportive environment to practice and develop the knowledge, skills and values necessary to uphold self-identity and to face the challenges of reality and to participate in a multi-cultural and ethnically diverse New Zealand society.
Bangladeshi nationals started arriving in New Zealand during the mid 1980’s initially on tourist visa and applied subsequently for residency on various grounds. In the early 1990’s the New Zealand immigration policy was changed in favour of overseas migrants which provided Bangladeshis with a better opportunity to migrate in New Zealand under general skilled category. With growing number of Bangladeshis in New Zealand, need for a representative body was felt to address various concerned issues. Mr Ataur Rahman, a Bangladeshi chartered accountant, along with other foresighted Bangladeshis took the initiative to re-organise Bangladeshi community and formed Bangladesh New Zealand Friendship Society (BNZFS) Inc. on 25 July 1991 on a non-partisan basis to represent Bangladeshis in New Zealand.
This organisation, more popularly known as the Society , has been advocating successfully issues that Bangladeshi migrants came across during their early process of settlement and residency. Under the immigration law at that time, Society also helped eligible Bangladeshis with the community sponsorships towards their immigration applications. Such venture of the Society was highly appreciated by the then Minister of Immigration, Mr Roger Maxwell, regards to useful support to the community and transparency of the transaction.
So far, Society ‘s uniqueness as an organisation and representations has heightened its status in the community and among the governmental and non-governmental organisations in New Zealand. With an approach of healthy cohesion and mutual respect, Society endorses a process and policy of promoting Bangladeshi culture and language locally along with necessary support to the community at all levels.
Society ‘s effective networking for the community has been appreciated both locally and internationally. Society values quality representations of its members and the Bangladeshi community as a whole. It also encourages and facilitates perticipation in the community activities and programmes in New Zealand . With due regards to the local statutes, Society endeavours to protect and enhance the community profile and to pursue with issues benefiting Bangladesh and Bangladeshis locally and globally.