Loyal Sri Lankan hon­oured

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

For Daniel Muthu­mala, sat­is­fac­tion comes from watch­ing chil­dren con­nect with their dis­tant home­land.

The Tawa res­i­dent was re­cently hon­oured with a Queen’s Ser­vice Medal for his ser­vice to the Sri Lankan com­mu­nity. The 86- year- old has been in New Zealand 42 years and worked for the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade, the Min­istry of Health and the Fish­ing In­dus­try Board.

‘‘I moved to New Zealand to give my chil­dren the chance of a good ed­u­ca­tion,’’ he said.

He used his man­age­ment skills to help es­tab­lish and run the United Sri Lankan As­so­ci­a­tion in 1983 and the Sri Lankan As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand in 2004.

Muthu­mala said his de­sire, once set­tled in New Zealand, was to make Sri Lankans here aware of their ori­gins and cul­ture.

‘‘I had this dream of get­ting our younger gen­er­a­tion, even if they were born in New Zealand, to be aware of where their par­ents or grand­par­ents have come from,’’ he said.

‘‘Cey­lon and Sri Lanka have a history that spans 2500 years and it is very valu­able for young peo­ple to know about their her­itage.’’

Part of his strat­egy in­volved mu­sic – and Sri Lankan drums.

A free weekly work­shop at the Tawa Com­mu­nity Cen­tre was pop­u­lar, colour­ful and noisy, he said.

An an­nual quiz night hosted by the Sri Lankan As­so­ci­a­tion al­ways drew about 125 peo­ple and was a bril­liant way to re­fresh mem­o­ries about their home­land, Muthu­mala said.

He was also proud to be an in­stru­men­tal fig­ure in forg­ing a link with Oron­go­mai Marae in Up­per Hutt.

The marae has staged Wai­tangi cel­e­bra­tions in con­junc­tion with the Sri Lankan com­mu­nity since 2004.

The cross-cul­tural cel­e­bra­tions had been ben­e­fi­cial for ev­ery­one in­volved, Muthu­mala said.

He was sur­prised to re­ceive the Queen’s Birth­day hon­our.

‘‘I was not that en­thu­si­as­tic about it ini­tially, I have to ad­mit,’’ he said.

‘‘But my grand­daugh­ter was keen and I’m happy to ac­cept it. I never did any­thing for at­ten­tion.’’

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Daniel Muthu­mala, a pil­lar of the Sri Lankan com­mu­nity in the Welling­ton re­gion.

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