Dr N Rasalingam passes away in Auckland

Funeral on Sunday, September 3, 2017

Venkat Raman

Auckland, Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dr Nagalingam Rasalingam, one of the most widely respected and endeared community leaders, whose contributions for the betterment of refugees is legendary, passed away this morning (Saturday, August 26, 2017) at his residence in Glen Innes.

The end came at 630 am after a prolonged illness. He was 81 years old and left behind his wife Rasamalar, their daughter Rosena Sammi, a Barrister, Solicitor, Author and Jewellery Designer (who lives in New York with her husband Paramjeet and their daughters Zaira and Saffya) and their son Dr Ravi, a Cardiologist (who lives in St Louis, Missouri, USA with his wife Parul and their sons Roshan and Sahali and daughter Kalyani). They are expected to arrive in Auckland shortly.

Dr Rasalingam’s funeral will be held on Sunday, September 3, 2017, details of which will be announced in due course.

New Zealand Veteran

Dr Rasalingam and Rasamalar have been residents of New Zealand for more than 47 years. They arrived from their native Sri Lanka in December 1969.

Dr Rasalingam was a General Practitioner at Glen Innes for 42 years before retiring in 2011. He was known to his patients as a kind-hearted medical practitioner with a sincere desire to see them lead a healthy life.

Beyond his medical profession, Dr Rasalingam was known for his community and social work for more than 40 years.

Queen Elizabeth II made him a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in her New Year Honours List in January 2000 for his services to the ethnic and refugee communities and the Kiwi Bank honoured him with the ‘Local Hero’s Medal,’ as a part of its New Zealander of the Year Award in 2010.

Passion for people

In our Indian Newslink Special Feature on ‘Sri Lankans in New Zealand’ published in September 2002, we had said, “There is something in the man who was drawn into public service-a natural extension perhaps to the noble profession of medicine which he entered more than five decades ago following his graduation.”

In that year, then Prime Minister Helen Clark said, “We are proud of people like Dr Rasalingam who have contributed a lot to the social and community welfare.”

Organisations involved

His passion for community and social welfare made him a welcome member of many organisations and soon their leader. Among them were New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Councils Inc (National President), Medical Subcommittee of the Councils (Chairman), Refugee Migrant Commission (Vice-President), New Zealand Chapter of Medical Doctors of Asia (Vice-President) Advisory Board for Planning of Auckland 2020 of the City of Auckland Vision Reference Group (Member), Auckland Ethnic Council, The Refugee Council and Auckland Refugees as Survivors (RAS) Centre.

He was also a member of the New Zealand Tamil Society and the Glen Innes Business Association for several years.

Globetrotter and Speaker

Dr Rasalingam was the preferred speaker in several international conferences, seminars and discussions on medical, human rights, refugees, rehabilitation, social and cultural issues on both sides of the Tasman and Asia and his views are weighed with respect and enthusiasm.

A witness to the plight of thousands of Sri Lankans who were forced to flee their homeland in the wake of civil unrest and brutality, he understood the need for their meaningful rehabilitation in countries around the world.

He was instrumental in the establishment of the first centre for Rehabilitation of Refugees in New Zealand.

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