Western Leader : January 11th 2011
3 WESTERN LEADER, JANUARY 11, 2011 NEWS Call 0800 BLINDS 254637 www.homevisionblinds.co.nz Up to RRP OFF 60% BLINDS! BLINDS! BLINDS! Vertical • Venetian • Sunscreen • Wooden • Roller FOR FREE MEASURE & QUOTE 7.00am to 6pm purpose built centres NEW ECE 3369192AA Family Ca re Pharmacy from baby to adult Prescriptions Sunglasses Sun Care First Aid Supplies HENDERSON VALLEY PHARMACY 249 Henderson Valley Rd HENDERSON PH: 8370892 Easy Parking Tamil advocate earns a medal By VANITA PRASAD An honour: Thevarajan Arumugam has been awarded a Queen's Service Medal. Fighting for the human rights and welfare of Tamil people has earned Thevarajan Arumugam a Queen's Service Medal in the New Year's Honours list. It's recognition the Tamil elder did not expect. Compared to those other people who have been recognised I am only a small man. I'm not extravagant or rich,'' he says. Mr Arumugam came to New Zealand in 1997 after one of his two sons moved here on a schol- arship. The Avondale resident founded the New Zealand Tamil Studies and Humanitarian Trust to advocate for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Mr Arumugam says they are still being persecuted despite the war being over. What's happening in Sri Lanka is not war or even riot -- it's genocide. The UN declared on July 5, 2010, that there was no longer reason for Tamils to seek refuge which is not true.'' Along with his work for Tamils in Sri Lanka in 2004, Mr Arumugam helped Sri Lankan migrant retirees in New Zealand receive pensions they were entitled to. He says not speaking English is hard for Sri Lankan migrants. Many of the Tamils who came over as refugees had a poor knowledge of the language.'' Mr Arumugam's advocacy also ensured that when Tamils became New Zealand citizens they could swear on the religious text that was relevant to them. Champions of taha Maori By VANITA PRASAD Top performers: Ngapo and Muriel 'Pimia' Wehi, centre, with the Te Waka Huia kapa haka group. Photo: KATHRIN SIMON NEW YEAR HONOURS FROM the moment Muriel and Ngapo Wehi met at a bus stop in Gisborne it was love at first sight. Mrs Wehi was going to leave her hometown for a job in Auckland when she saw Mr Wehi and decided to stay. For 29 years the Hender- son couple have guided thou- sands of Maori youth through the kapa haka group they founded, Te Waka Huia. Mr and Mrs Wehi are the only six-time winners of the Aotearoa Traditional Maori Performing Arts Festival, which is now known as Te Matatini. They got second place five times as well. Now their joint services to Maori have earned both Mrs Wehi, 81, and Mr Wehi, 77, mentions in the New Year honours list. At a ceremony at Govern- ment House on Waitangi Day Mr Wehi will receive a Queen's Service Medal while Mrs Wehi, who already has a Queen's Service Medal and an honorary doctorate from Massey University, will be appointed a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Mr Wehi says he didn't get into performing because he loved it, he did it for his wife. We made a deal. She would come along to watch me play sport if I joined in the kapa haka.'' Performing has taken them all over the world. Mr Wehi says their first trip overseas was to New York and San Francisco in 1972 with Te Waka Huia. Since then the group has shared Maori culture all around the world travelling throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific. They took part in the open- ing ceremonies at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and they performed at the close of the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada. Their pan-tribal Te Waka Huia group had just got back from Shanghai when the couple received a letter informing them of their latest honours. They are now preparing for their last Te Matatini compe- tition before they retire and let their children take the reins. Mr Wehi says while they were humbled by the New Year honours they are more thrilled by the legacy they are passing on. We have three daughters and three sons who will carry on what we were taught.'' Their son Tapeta, one of those who will take over run- ning the group, says he has big shoes to fill. Mum and dad are the pin- nacle of what people can hope to achieve in kapa haka.'' He says while many urban Maori struggle to maintain their culture his parents have ensured that hasn't been a problem for his family. Even though we live in Auckland our taha Maori is very important to us.''
January 6th 2011
January 13th 2011