I am sitting here, trying to find the words to write a tribute about a man who was so full of love, laughter and life – a man who was taken too soon.
Wenceslaus was a someone who exemplified the concept of servant leadership.
He valued other people’s opinions, prioritised service before self and was the kind of leader who developed and nurtured other leaders. He led by example and that set him apart from so many.
He was that rare kind of leader who harmoniously blended leadership and service and exuded humility. He also had a lovely sense of humour and was always straightforward.
I have many memories of Wenceslaus. I met him for the first time as a newbie candidate, when he invited me to the launch of the Multicultural New Zealand Business Advisory Board. We bonded over shared connections with Chennai, Kerala and Singapore.
I have seen him at virtually every Indian community event over the past three years.
He would invariably find me, give me a big hug and announce in his booming voice that the next Indian MP had arrived!
I never quite knew how to respond to that, but was always grateful for his support.
He knew that I love sarees and whenever I wore a traditional South Indian Pattu (silk) saree, he would be sure to let me know that he had noticed!
We have had many cups of coffee and chats about his life, my career, the Indian community, business and human rights. I will cherish them.
I never thought, when I saw him at his Papal Ceremony on May 21, 2017 that it would be the last time. I was there with Phil Twyford, Wenceslaus’ local MP in Te Atatu, and it was such a happy evening. The Church hall was filled with people to wish him well and recognise his contribution to our society.
Wenceslaus – or Wency as he was known to friends (I was never brave enough to call him that – he was always Mr Anthony to me) – has made huge contributions to New Zealand. His service to the business, Roman Catholic, Multicultural and Interfaith communities, to name a few, has been exemplary. Over and above that, he was a kind man who cared about others. When he travelled to Chennai last year, he insisted on calling my parents and had a lovely long chat with my father. Before he left on his most recent trip, he told me this time he would meet my parents.
Sadly, that was not to be. My parents join me in sending heartfelt condolences to Susan, Sneha and Akash. Wenceslaus, you have touched the lives of so many and you will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, dear friend, and thank you.
Photo Caption: Priyanca Radhakrishnan with Wenceslaus Anthony at the launch of Electionlink pages of Indian Newslink on February 28, 2017.
(Picture by Creative Eye Fotographics)