Queen’s Service award-winning Eezham Tamil couple in New Zealand, Mr. George Arulanantham and Ms. Anne Umadevi George, were felicitated by New Zealand Tamils at the Tamil Harvest Festival celebrated at Auckland on Saturday. NZ parliamentarian Ms. Denise Roche was Chief Guest to the function. This year’s Queen’s Service Medal was awarded to the couple honouring their long community service to refugees in New Zealand. While George Arulanantham’s contribution was related to social organisation and integration of Tamil refugees, Anne Umadevi George largely concentrated on the Tamil education of the refugee children. Both are engaged in community service since 1990s.
Mr. Arulanantham was president to the New Zealand Tamil Society and was later Coordinator of the Consortium of Tamil Associations in New Zealand, developing them into meaningful community organisations with a mission.
He extensively contributed in creating awareness on the plight of Eezham Tamils among all shades of politics in New Zealand, thus paving way for smooth integration of Eezham Tamils into the society of New Zealand with understanding and identity.
The landmark contribution of Anne Umadevi George was her Tamil education programme. Since 2003 she is running POONGA, a Tamil Community Play Group, teaching Tamil to children below five-year-old.
Her innovative venture of adapting New Zealand’s Early Childhood Curriculum to teach Tamil to children through play groups has earned the recognition of the Ministry of Education.
Later, as a next step of extending Tamil studies for school-going children, she was implementing the graded syllabi prepared by the late Vendanar Ilanko for Tamil Examinations approved by the Australian Government and she prepared students to sit for the Australian Tamil Examinations.
She is now preparing students for the International Tamil Examinations syllabi and now students are sitting for these Tamil Examinations as well. The Tamil children and their parents are happy about the programmes and the recognition of the certificates they get.
Hailing from Aanaikkoaddai in Jaffna, George Arulanantham a Mechanical Engineer by profession, was an old student of Maanippaay Hindu College and University of Peradeniya. Anne Umadevi George studied at Colombo Methodist College as well as at Ratmalana Hindu College. New Zealand Tamils organise a special community reception to the couple next month.