In a first of its kind, the Auckland Tamil Association facilitated and bestowed the Labour MP for Mt Roskill and Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Minister for Ethnic Communities, Michael Wood, with the title Tamil – Selvan -“Son of Tamil.”
Auckland Tamil Association hosted their annual Diwali celebration event, which was special this year for bringing a well-known artist Cinni Jayanth from India to perform and entertain the audience on Saturday, November 17, at Freeman’s Bay Community Centre, where the facilitation of Mr Wood took place.
The event was well-attended by other dignitaries including Kiwi-Indian MPs Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Dr Parmjeet Parmar and Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Hon. Consul of India, Bhav Dhillon, along with several prominent community leaders including Jeet Suchdev of Bhartiya Samaj, Rakesh Naidoo of Human Rights Commission, Bhikhu Bhana of New Zealand Indian Central Association and members of Tamil community and the wider public.
Accepting the award, Mr Wood wowed a full-house audience by starting his acceptance speech in the Tamil language – a gesture well received by one and all in attendance.
“Tami? parampariyatti? pakamaka iruppata?ku na? mikavum perumaippa?uki?e?, Nanri, vannakam,” Mr Wood said in Tamil to the delight of the audience.
“I am very proud to be part of the Tamil tradition,” Mr Wood followed English.
Indeed, conferring of the title “Son of Tamil” to any MP, either Kiwi or Kiwi-Indian is historic for the Auckland Tamil Association.
Explaining the rationale behind this unprecedented felicitation, the President of Auckland Tamil Association Vai Ravindran told The Indian Weekender, “This is just to acknowledge and appreciate Mr Wood’s special relation and bonding with the Tamil community.
“Members of our Association and the wider Tamil community have long felt the support that Mr Wood extends to our people, and more importantly his appreciation of Tamil language and culture in our repeated engagements is beyond mistakable,” Mr Ravindran said.
“In our last major event, where Y.G. Mahendra drama troupe visited from overseas, Mr Wood watched the entire show till late in the evening. This only reflects his special appreciation of our Tamil language and culture, and we thought this time to acknowledge his support and love with small facilitation,” Mr Ravindran said.
Expressing his gratitude, Mr Wood said, “It is great and deeply felt honour for me to be accepted as a part of your community.
“The time that I have to spend with the Tamil community, at their events or meeting with the people, is not in any way a work or burden.
“It is joy and pleasure for me and I am so full of admiration of this community and the way you support one another and the way in which you value and treasure your values, language and cultural tradition and keep it vibrant in our beautiful country of Aotearoa,” Mr Wood said.