Ratna with her husband Purshottam Krishna in Rarotonga
Standfirst: The family Ratna Krishnan has announced that a Memorial Meeting in her honour will be held on Saturday, November 7, 2020 from 1 pm to 4 pm at the Orewa College Arts & Events Centre, 80 Riverside Road, Orewa. Known to the Indian and other communities as a compassionate, endearing and helpful human being, Ratna Krishnan passed away in Orewa on Wednesday, August 19, 2020. She would have been 82 years old on September 8, 2020. Ratna’s husband Purshottam Krishna passed away on October 3, 2019.
She left behind her two daughters Naleen Mudaliar and Jaya Krishnan, sons-in-law Shri Mudaliar and Christian Harmes, daughter-in-law Teresa Krishnan, and nine grandchildren, including Jaishri Mudaliar, Pavan Mudaliar, Krishan Mudaliar, Sean Jowsey, Conor Healy, Jordyn Healy, Keshwan Krishnan, India Harmes and Nehru Harmes.
The following is a tribute by former Member of Parliament (Labour) Dr Rajen Prasad who has known the family for several decades, reproduced from our Digital Edition dated September 1, 2020.
Our enduring image of Ratna Krishnan of Orewa will be her sense of giving to others.
Both through her own vigilance and thoughtfulness as well as her reputation for “making things happen,” she was able to bring relief and joy to a long list of individuals and causes in New Zealand and Fiji, throughout her life.
Ratna was born in Fiji about 82 years ago (on September 8, 1938) and was the eldest in a family of eight siblings. Growing up in Labasa was never easy but Ratna recalled her maternal grandfather with affection, especially his personality as a giver, his kindness and generosity, his attitude to hard work and his love of teaching.
Ratna must have internalised these characteristics because they were powerfully telegraphed in her contributions throughout her life.
Passion for education
As an Indian woman from Fiji, Ratna had many firsts in her life but education had always been a very significant part. She left Labasa aged 13 years for schooling at the Ram Krishna Mission and attended Vivekananda College before taking up teacher training at the Nasinu Teachers Training College. She taught at the Sangam Primary School in Labasa and, in 1962, married Purshottam Krishnan and lived in an extended family household there before taking up a posting in Lautoka where their son Sri Rama Krishnan and daughter Jaya were born. Their eldest daughter Naleen was born in Labasa.
While teaching in Lautoka Ratna was offered a one-year Commonwealth Scholarship to study Home Economics in England which she took up with encouragement from Purshottam.
Ratna recalled this as a wonderful time of her life despite missing the family in Fiji.
At the end of her scholarship, Purshottam insisted that she travel to India, Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand on her way home. Such characteristics were typical of Purshottam’s relationship with Ratna and included his insistence that she learn to drive a car in order to avoid reliance on others for transport.
In 1975 the Krishnan family migrated to New Zealand and settled in Orewa. While the choice was determined by Purshottam’s work as an Environmental Health Officer for Rodney District, the family embraced the Orewa community, and they lived here all their lives.
Ratna and Purshottam were Rotary “junkies” in a sense, an association that had started in Fiji many years ago. Their Rotary family was very important to them and it provided a key platform for Ratna to cement her most endearing characteristic for unconditional giving and for taking up causes of all kinds. Her impact as a Rotarian even extended to Vanuatu.
Ratna and Purshottam Krishna soon after their marriage on 12.05.1962
Any acquaintance or friend of Ratna will vouch for her tirelessness when it came to take up causes. She was the “go-to” person to fund raise for a just cause whether it was to help a young person realise a dream or to celebrate the artistic skills of an individual she had met. The model her maternal grandfather has provided endured throughout her life and she perfected it considerably.
As the eldest member of a large, extended family, she appreciated the responsibilities that came with this role and kept an eye on all their interests. She was successful in facilitating many of them in their migration to New Zealand and successful settlement.
Ratna even had the foresight to purchase land and establish premises for businesses in Silverdale so that the family would have work.
Mission and Vision
Ratna was tireless in her mission and fearless in her resolve.
Throughout her life, she was able to amalgamate her organising ability with her resourcefulness to bring relief and entertainment to many in her ethnic and local communities even at the expense of her own interests.
She adored her six grandchildren and was looking forward to her first grandson’s wedding next year. When her son Sri had a fatal accident in Indonesia in 2012, Ratna was devastated. Even as she carried on with her focus on others the impact of her loss was immeasurable.
With Purshottam she had moved to Evelyn Page Retirement Village in Orewa in 2017.
Purshottam lost his battle barely 10 months ago.
On leaving North Shore Hospital Ratna received nursing care at Evelyn Page and was regularly visited by her children, their families and friends although in the last Covid 19 months this was made more difficult.
Rest in peace Ratna. You will be missed but you have left many memories and much for us to celebrate in your name.
(Pictures from INL Library)
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