Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 130 pm at Alexandra Park, Greenlane, Auckland
Auckland, August 28, 2017
Dr Nagalingam Rasalingam passed away peacefully at his home in St. Johns, Auckland on Saturday, August 26 at the age of 81.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 47 years Malar, his cherished children Ravi (wife Parul) and Rosena (husband Tony) and adored grandchildren Roshan, Saheli, Kalyani, Zaira and Saafiya. Loyal brother to Colonel Amirtha (deceased), Suntha, Rani and Mani (deceased); Aasaiappah to Usha, Rohan, Ritchie (deceased), Asha and Anju.
Ras, as he was affectionately known, was born in Jaffna in 1936. From humble beginnings, he went on to become Head Prefect of the prestigious Royal College in Colombo, National Badminton Champion of Sri Lanka at the age of 19, claiming the men’s singles title four times between 1955 and 1962 and representing Sri Lanka at the Thomas Cup. The stories of those early years are legendary with his friends and family, who remember the free-wheeling mischief and mayhem that Ras created all the while succeeding both in the sporting arena and in his education. He graduated from Colombo Medical College and, ever adventurous, answered a call for doctors from the other side of the world, in New Zealand.
Gentleman General Practitioner
This marked the beginning of a life filled with his love of sports and community. Ras and his General Practice clinic in the center of Glen Innes quickly became an integral part of the predominantly Maori and Pacific Island community focusing on the health issues of the underserved. To encourage better access to healthcare he saw children and later refugees for free. For almost 40 years he was frequently seen with his black doctor’s bag making house calls, helping local clubs and community centers.
In 1983, civil war broke out in Sri Lanka, deeply affecting the Tamil community.
This marked a turning point for Ras and was the impetus for a life advocating for the rights of minorities.
Services to Tamil people
Ras went on to establish the New Zealand Tamil Society and he was instrumental in petitioning the New Zealand government to recognise Tamil migration to New Zealand on humanitarian grounds.
Acutely aware of the issues faced by his own family as refugees, Ras became a fierce and tireless worker for all refugees focusing on migrant health and re-settlement.
He served multiple terms as president of the Auckland Ethnic Council, Auckland Refugee Council, New Zealand Refugee Council and founded Ethnic Voice New Zealand and co-founded the Refugees as Survivors Medical Center.
Awards and citations
For his extensive community work Ras was awarded the Queens Service Medal in 1990, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2000, Auckland Mayor’s “Living Legend” award in 2005 and Kiwi Bank Local Hero’s Medal in 2010.
Dr Ras was not only a devoted husband, father and grandfather, but a humanitarian and a visionary who will be forever remembered for his contributions to New Zealand, this great country that welcomed him as a young man.
A celebration of his life will be held at Alexandra Park on Sunday September 3, 2017 starting at 130 pm with a private cremation to follow.
If you want to send your condolences please email rememberras