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Ranjna Patel featured in exhibition of iconic Kiwis

Along with Helen Clark, Joseph Parker and Michelle Dickinson, Tāmaki Health/Local Doctors co-founder and director Ranjna Patel has been chosen as one of 10 iconic New Zealanders to feature in a new interactive exhibition titled “Symbolically Kiwi”. 

The exhibition by Auckland artist Ang Nayyar, otherwise known as MrGeometric, opened at Silo Park on September 12. It features life-sized photographs of each subject, overlaid with symbolic shapes designed by the artist. There are stations throughout the exhibition where visitors can pick up the shapes, pose with them, and create their own A3 prints to take home. 

Ang says that the purpose of this exhibition is to celebrate the successes of real Kiwis and show that they’re “not that different from you and I”. 

“I wanted anyone to be able to walk into this exhibition and to think, 'Wow, this person looks like me, and if they can do it I can do it'."  

Ranjna says that when Ang first asked her to be involved, she was baffled to be included among the lineup of famous faces. 

“I said, ‘Have you got the right person?’ Nobody outside of my field of expertise would know who I was.”

From left: Joseph Parker, Nick Mowbray and Ranjna Patel
Ranjna with boxing champion Joseph Parker and Zuru-founder Nick Mowbray

But Ang says as soon as he heard about Ranjna’s story from a friend, he knew he wanted her to be involved in the project. 

“Ranjna and her husband started a GP practice in the '70s when they were told that New Zealand wasn’t ready for a specialist with an accent, and that they should work somewhere where people look and sound like them,” he says. 

“From that, they now have over 50 clinics, and 260,000 registered patients. It’s a fantastic example of overcoming the odds to make a massive difference.”  

For Ranjna's shape, Ang says he was inspired by Indian symbolism as well as the logos that reflect Ranjna's work. 

“We’ve got the lotus on the outside, which is found in mandalas and Indian symbology everywhere, and also in the logo of her family harm programme Gandhi Nivas. Then I’ve taken the Tāmaki Health logo and placed it inside the lotus petals."

Despite the high-profile faces featured in Symbolically Kiwi, the photoshoot was not a glamorous affair. In fact, Ranjna says that Ang asked her to arrive looking as plain and simple as possible.

“His mandate was all black, no jewellery, very little makeup and no smile. He said ‘I want you to look like you’re just Joe Bloggs’. That was his concept. He wanted kids coming through to see that you can look like this and still achieve.” 

Symbolically Kiwi runs from 9am-9pm daily at Silo Park until Sunday 27 September. Entry is free. ​​​​​​​