New Zealand’s Tamil community is in grief after the news of the death of the last icon of Dravidian Movement Karunanidhi on Tuesday, August 7.

The former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK stalwart M. Karunanidhi set for heavenly abode at 6.20 p.m. on Tuesday, August 7, at the Cauvery Hospital in Chennai.

"With deep anguish, we announce the demise of our beloved Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi at 6.20 p.m.," a hospital statement said.

"Despite the best possible efforts by a team of doctors and nurses to resuscitate him, he failed to respond,” the statement further read.

Earlier Mr Karunanidhi, 94, was admitted to the hospital on July 28 and his condition worsened on Monday.

Expectedly the news has brought grief and mourning to New Zealand’s Tamil community.

Vai Ravindran, President, Auckland Tamil Association, told the Indian Weekender, “He was a great leader for more than fifty years. We are naturally shattered by his demise.”

Ilango Krishnamurthy, a prominent businessman, and President, Thiru Sumbramaniyam Temple, Mangere, told the Indian Weekender, "He was the real Chanakya of the 21st century.”

“He knew how to deal with the masses, very sharp and agile and a true politician. He will be missed by the people of Tamil Nadu," Mr Krishnamurthy further added.

Giri Giridharan, another prominent businessman and member of the community paid tribute to the great Tamil stalwart.

Speaking to the Indian Weekender, Mr Giridharan said, “Indeed, it is a sad moment.

“His contribution to Tamil Nadu’s industrialisation and overall development is remarkable and well appreciated by the people of the state.

“He has excelled in cinema world as well, wrote a lot of popular films which makes him more adorable among Tamil people.

“As a politician, he was widely respected and well regarded all around India.”

Maninilavan Arivukkarasu, President Muth Tamil Sangam said, "Karunanidhi contested elections thirteen times with same spirit and courage and remained undefeated.

“He served the people for over six decades. He gave an equal share to women from their family; he was a saviour for the Tamilians, fought for our rights education and inspired us at many levels. His death is a great loss for the people of Tamil Nadu and the nation," Mr Arivukkarasu further added.

J. Srinivasan, Executive Committee member, Waikato Tamil Society also expressed his anguish and paid tribute to the great Tamil leader.

“Karunanidhi has contributed immensely to Tamil Literature, Cinema, theatre, and Tamil and national politics for several decades.

“His death has left a big void in Tamil Nadu Politics.

“We, Tamil Society Waikato mourn his demise along with his family members, people of Tamil Nadu and Tamil diaspora all over the world,” Mr Srinivasan said.

Mr Suren, Secretary, Canterbury Tamil Society told the Indian Weekender, “We are deeply saddened by the passing away of Kalaignar Karunanidhi. 
“Tamil people all around the world will miss Kalaignar Karunanidhi and his work. 
“We profoundly mourn the loss of Kalaignar.”

Karunanidhi: A colossus in Dravidian politics

Karunanidhi was one of the last links to the Dravidian movement that ushered in the rise of backward classes in politics and the end of Congress rule in Tamil Nadu five decades ago on the plank of social justice.

A five-time Chief Minister, the 94-year-old Karunanidhi, who strode the public life of Tamil Nadu like a colossus, also played a key role in national politics when he aligned with Indira Gandhi in 1971 and reaped rich rewards in elections. 

But he staunchly opposed the Emergency of 1975-77 during which his government was dismissed on corruption charges. He was banished to the opposition ranks till the death of his friend-turned-foe and iconic film hero M.G. Ramachandran or MGR in December 1987.

Born in Tirukkuvalai in the erstwhile Thanjavur district on June 3, 1924, Karunanidhi was a multifaceted personality -- journalist, playwright, scriptwriter -- whose fiery dialogues as an iconoclast in films unleashed changes in Tamil Nadu's social scene.
He joined the Dravidian movement as a teenager under the tutelage of the late social reformer 'Periyar' E.V. Ramasamy and Anna.