What is home though? – It’s an energy

Kamal Sunker

In the late 1880’s my ancestors, like many other Indo-South Africans sailed over to a continent they had little knowledge of. The British needed farmers, and got thousands of Indians to work on their plantations as indentured labourers. If you think back to how long ago that was, not a lot was happening in the world in the late 1800s - to give it some context, that was just after the Tiriti O Waitangi got signed, on the other side of the world, right here in NZ. Despite the fact that the Indian diaspora were so far removed for generations and generations, there is still some fundamental aspects of the culture which has retained, like my favourite aspect, the food. Indians and Africans have a long history of working in cane fields together, looking at the history of the Caribbean, not to mention the influence that Hinduism has had on Rastafari.

I moved to New Zealand with my parents in 1999 when I was 11-years old.. When we moved here we lived in Tauranga and let’s be honest being in Tauranga in 1999 as a brown person was hard and we only lived there for a year. The move from Tauranga was sparked by a genuine desire to be around people that looked like us. All these associations with who you are, are important and during that time I felt far removed from the culture and the system. I just couldn’t relate to it because it didn’t serve me and it most certainly didn’t represent me.

Whenever I’m asked if I would live in Durban again, my answer is always yes I would live in Durban again because it’s fun. Yes, there’s lots of crime but everyone is nice in the sense that it is an environment that is guided by collectivist thinking. In addition to that, I am proud of South Africa as a country. I remember when Nelson Mandela was elected I was 6-years old, it was the first time my parents voted and people lined up for more than 6 hours to vote. It reminds me of the struggle of my people - the people of South Africa, and how they endured apartheid and fought against a system that was fundamentally racist.

Whenever I’m asked if I feel like New Zealand is a better home for me, my response is to question what the notion of home is. Genetically my ancestors are nomads so I feel like home is wherever. Home can change, it can be everywhere and anywhere. New Zealand is the place I grew up in and I like spending time here. I just believe that home is an energy and not a place.