Welcome Speech From Mr. Navindra Herat , President United Sri Lanka Association At the Inaugural Sri Lanka Parliamentary Day At The Grand Hall, New Zealand Parliament 23rd July
Posted on July 28th, 2020

Chula Rajapakse 

Ayubowan, Wannakkam, Asalam Malaikum, Kiora, Good Evening PAMINA sitina OBA sama DENAMA, eksath SRI LANKA SANGAMAYA VENUWEN, ethamath SADARAYEN saha GAURAVAYEN piliganimu”

Honorable Ministers, Members of Parliament, Honorary consul of Sri Lanka, ladies and gentlemen. on behalf of the United Sri Lanka Association, we welcome you, to this inaugural Sri Lankan Parliament Day.

First, I wish to pass my gratitude, to Mr. Greg O’Conner and Mr. Brett Hudson, inviting Sri Lankan Community, to New Zealand Parliament building, to host Sri Lankan Parliament day.

I also wanted to thank, ‘Tangata—F(W)henua’, accepting the Sri Lankan community to be, part of ‘Ao-tea-roa’. United Sri Lanka Association, inception in 1983. For the past 37 years, we have been at the forefront of community activities.

Today, I am humbled and honored, to be the President of the United Sri Lankan Association. Today, we have closer to 130 people, from our community gathered here.

This number is less than 10% of the estimated Sri Lankans, living in the Wellington region. This gathering represents a well-distributed subset of our community.

In this gathering, we have… Medical Doctors, Engineers, Financial experts, Ethnic Affairs representatives, Bankers, IT professionals, Anthropoeias, Accountants, Statisticians, Educators, Lecturers, Nurses, Teachers, Business Owners, Tradesmen, Chefs, Musicians, Cricket Coachers, Physical trainers, Housewife’s, Moms and Fathers… and many other Professionals. Also, we have representatives of other community organizations, who tirelessly give away their personal time, doing 100’s of voluntary hours, contributing their well-earned knowledge, to make Sri Lankan society thrive.

Specially to make our children, responsible citizens of New Zealand with Sri Lankan touch. Some of these organizations, have operated in Wellington, closer to half a century. Most of the organizations, are older than 30 years, since its inception. Today we not only have organizations from Wellington, also from other cities.

I will take a moment, to introduce them to you. – Sri Lankan Dance Academy – Founder – Mrs. Dayani Gonsalkorale – Sri Lankan friendship Society – President – Dr. Shahen De costa – Wellington Sri Lankan School – Treasurer – Mr Gamini Settinayake – Sri Lankan Seniors – President – Mr Bunny Saldin. – Sri Lanka Association of New Zealand – President – Mr Athula Wanasinghe – Sri Lankan Sports Club – President – Chathura Gunawardhana and Club Captain – Nal Ariyawansa – Sri Lankan Masters Cricket – Founder Member – Mr Nadun Kithulagoda, represent by his wife, Niromi Kithulagoda – HB Association – Senior Committee Members, Dr Daya Dayathilaka and Mr. Sarath Kuruwita Also, in this gathering, we have 4 very special individuals.

They were amongst 90 founder members, that formed, the united Sri Lanka association in 1983. Without them, we wouldn’t be here today…. My Special gratitude goes to, – Dr Nihal Gonsalkorala – Mrs Dayani Gonsalkorala – Mr. Dhammika Muthumala – Dr Kamala Rupasinghe and her (Late Husband Mr Leonard Rupasinghe) Also, I wish to pass my gratitude, to all the other founder members, past Presidents, Members, and Office Bearers of USLA, for their voluntary service rendered to the organization, and the community.

Today, as a President of the United Sri Lanka Association, we are extending our vision, towards connecting the Sri Lankan community, with the “House of Representatives”. We believe, this would greatly benefit, our community organizations, individuals, and business, to make connections, and open channels for, future endeavors. Also, we believe, the “House of Representatives”, would broaden the view of, who we are, our background, and our contributions to …. New Zealand social and economic landscape.

We have many aspirations and goals, for how our community should progress, towards the future. We want to do our part, doing so we want to contribute, effectively and efficiently, towards making the society better. We bring our humbleness, knowledge, Expertise, Hospitality, Culture & knowhow to New Zealand, to be shared with all other communities, and live in Harmony.

We bring all these learnings from Sri Lanka, inherited through our rich history of over 2500 years of a thriving civilization. Built on Buddhist Philosophy, Occupations by Europeans in recent history, (Portuguese, Dutch, and English), Being in the middle of ancient sea trade roots, mix of cultures and food, embedded traditions, Different styles of dances, drumming and rituals, it made who we are today.

Our mother Lanka, has an unbroken written history in a book, called ‘Mahawansa’, starting from 543 BC, since King Vijaya established his kingdom in Sri Lanka.

This made no doubt, what our origins are. As the President of the United Sri Lankan Association, I would like to see, a United Sri Lankan Community, who would stand tall, Do the right thing, and help each other. To meet our community future aspirations, – We want to extend our community house, called Lakmadura, to wider community needs with added facilities. – We want to start a close dialog with the local House of representatives, Wellington City Council, and Hutt City Council. – We want to share information, and resources, with other organizations… not limited to Wellington.

I am hoping when the Sri Lankan community meets the House of Representatives” next year, in a similar setting, we would have built closer dialog with each other.

Also hoping that the connection that you would initiate today will become stronger as days go by. Finally, thank you for your time and presence today at this historical event.

I hope you all will have a good time this evening, mixing mingling with members of the parliament, and your friends, sharing your thoughts and ideas. I wish you all a long and happy life” Ayubowan,

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