Weekly column by Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan.
There are many who have migrated to Aotearoa New Zealand to find a home. A place to spread our wings and fly.
Last week, I had a conversation with Jacob Rajan. Like me, a former Malaysian Indian, he was born in Batu Gajah (Elephant Rock) a town in the Malaysian state of Perak. While he came to New Zealand at the age of 3, I had arrived as an international student in my late teens.
Following the 1969 terrible racial riots in Malaysia Rajan's father, a psychiatrist, made a decision to seek a safer home for his family. He settled in New Zealand for a year before being confident to move his family over.
Like many migrant families, education was seen as the ladder for economic advancement. Rajan earned a degree in microbiology and a primary school teaching diploma. But never used it.
"Coming from a family line of doctors I never knew there was such a thing as the humanities and the arts. It was never talked about as a career option," said Rajan who, to the concerned astonishment of his family, threw his passion into the arts.
He joined a band, learned to paint and took acting classes, studied theatre at Toi Whakaari and has since evolved into one of the country's finest actors. An Arts Foundation Laureate in 2002, he was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit in 2013 for his contributions to theatre.
International recognition included winning the prestigious Fringe First Award in Edinburgh for the play Krishnan's Dairy, the first play, a one-man show, by his theatre company Indian Ink.
Krishnan's Dairy was the first of Rajan's performances that I saw and was impressed by his single-handed ability to skilfully subvert mainstream cultural stereotypes to enrich mainstream cultural complexity, understanding and inclusiveness.
I experienced that in cultural capital of Wellington City. Today, Rajan's Indian Ink theatre company is bringing their latest performance, again a one-man show, Paradise or the Impermanence of Ice Cream to the Kāpiti Coast. Thanks to the modern facilities of Te Raukura Performing Arts Centre at Kāpiti College.
I'm glad that council partnered with the college through a $1.6 million contribution towards the $12m project. Rajan's new production, inspired by Ernest Becker's Pulitzer Prize-winning Denial of Death, with its exquisite puppetry, and original sound design will test the technical capacity of our theatre.
The story's theme on the human capacity to accept our own death delivered with a balm of humour promises a great evening of enlightening entertainment. Don't miss the show scheduled every evening over August 12, 13 and 14.
Last Friday, I attended another 'show' this time at Southwards Theatre. Organised by the Kāpiti Health Advisory Group, about 400 people came to hear Professor Michael Baker talk on the challenges posed by the current Covid-19 pandemic.
A national adviser to the Government, this internationally known epidemiologist is the leading architect and advocate for the Covid-19 elimination strategy, a strategy that has potentially saved many hundreds if not thousands from infection and death.
I must call out the appalling behaviour of a small group of anti-vaxers. Despite being informed from the beginning by event MC, Dr Colin Feek, that there will be question time towards the end, members of this group heckled and disrupted and made a nuisance of themselves during the presentation. They were at times shut down by those who had come to hear Professor Baker and were fed up by the disrupters.
We accept the democratic right for people to hold different views but to attend a public meeting to disrupt others who have attended to hear the views of an expert on their health and safety was appalling behaviour. It does nothing to persuade the public to accept their conspiracy views.