In 2014, Dr Surinder Tandon received the insignia of a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (NZOM) for services to the community, and in the field of textile science. The award recognises a life time of service to others from a man whose personal motto is ‘service above self’.
Surinder is a distinguished academic who worked as an international textile consultant, and senior scientist for AgResearch Ltd for 27 years. Through active service to ethnic communities in the wider Canterbury region, Surinder built his public profile. He has held the role of President of the Christchurch Multicultural Council since 2009, was a founding member of the New Zealand Sikh Society, founding Trustee of the Canterbury Indian Community Centre Trust, and executive committee member of Christchurch Interfaith Council. In these roles Surinder has energetically led, and collaborated with, others to design initiatives that enhance the visibility, and participation of ethnic communities in New Zealand.
Surinder has been active in the Rotary club as President and Trustee, and is a member of the Regenerate Christchurch Surrounds Strategy Project reference group. More recently Surinder became a White Ribbon Ambassador, noting that he wanted to promote white ribbon principles in ethnic communities because “… migrant women are disproportionally represented as victims of sexual violence…”. He, alongside the Multicultural Council of New Zealand, want to encourage more support from men in ethnic communities.