As far as I know Mrs Lilian Gnanasunderam (Aunty Lilian), born on 25th October 1919 in Rathnapura, Ceylon, may be the most senior member of the Sri Lankan community who lived (as I write this) in New Zealand. She celebrated her 104th birthday on 25th October 2023 and, had peacefully passed away in her sleep at midnight of 3rd November 2023. May her soul Rest In Peace.
I met Aunty Lilian in the 1980’s soon after our arrival in New Zealand. Her older daughter and my husband, Dr Conrad Perera were scientists at the then Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), now called Crown Research Institutes (CRI’s). Aunty Lilian was a very special person in my life, and I was fortunate to be part of a Ladies Bible Study Group on Tuesday Mornings where we met for many years.
Aunty Lilian edited/proofread my book titled, “Thank You for being My Father” and spoke at the book launch held in July 2010. If anyone is interested, there are two spots where her short speeches can be heard on the video titled “My Book Launch” (at 8.30 min & 53.30 min) under – www.anneperera.co.nz.
By Dr Anne Perera – Auckland