SLANZ objectives are to foster, facilitate and promote within New Zealand, the development of cultural values and traditions of motherland Sri Lanka. SLANZ works to raise the awareness of the value of our rich 2500-year-old cultural heritage, especially among the younger Sri Lankans, and to educate them to further these values to enrich cultural diversity within New Zealand society. SLANZ is not a political organization. It complements the work of other Sri Lankan associations in the country.
The drive, energy and the dedication needed to launch the new association to fulfil these cultural needs of the Sri Lankan diaspora was enormous. We owe a huge debt to the pioneering committee led by Dr. Ravindra Ramyasiri and its supporters for their vision and labour of love. Within a short time after establishing as an incorporated body, SLANZ received the “charitable status” in NZ - which was a great achievement.
With the help of some talented artists in Wellington around this time, namely Kusumsiri Liyanaarachchi & Yashodhara Sarachchandra, SLANZ continued to serve the needs of the community by training keen youngsters and adults to take part in stage plays such as “Jasaya & Lenchina” “Maha Dena Muththa” , “Thoppi Velenda” . These productions helped our younger generation get a taste of Sri Lankan drama, stage craft, singing and acting. This duo also created a short Sinhala film “ Dwara Karma” produced in Wellington with a Sri Lankan cast.
Also the drumming ( Sri Lankan traditional drums ) classes conducted by Kusumsiri were a very popular one with great success. Mrs. Sanoji Kolongahapitiya - another talented artist, continued the good work originated by Kusumsiri.
Unfortunately, like all good things, the golden weather which brought about a major cultural revival within the Sri Lankan community lasted only four years. Unable to make a full time involvement in servicing a small community Kusumsiri and Yasodha left for greener pastures, in Australia with a much larger expat population.
It was when the community was in such doldrums that Indeewari Ratnayake arrived in Wellington. It was a godsend for SLANZ when it had exhausted all other feasible options. In fact Indeewari brought greater expertise and wider knowledge which allowed us to rejuvenate the the community’s cultural programme. After completing her early tertiary education in Sri Lanka Indeewari had moved to India for post graduate studies to gain Visharad in vocal and Bharatha Natyam at Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidya Pith and a degree in music at University of Delhi, and Masters Degree in Music at the Banaras Hindu University. While in Wellington she also completed a postgraduate diploma at the School of Music at Victoria University.
The beneficiaries of all that talent have been the Sri Lankan cultural enthusiasts in New Zealand who were able to train in music, eastern violin, vocal training as well as Bharatha Natyam all conducted by Indeewari. She is also providing a service to Wellington Sri Lankan School training religious devotional songs to the children of the Sunday School.
In the meantime, SLANZ also had broadened its activities available to our community, specially the youth, involving other cultures such as the Maori and Indian. Workshops were held and a strong relationship was made with the Orongomai Marae in Upper Hutt. Since 2006, SLANZ performed cultural items on every Waitangi day celebrations at the Marae
Free Guitar classes sponsored by SLANZ have also proved to be popular among the youth. Weekly guitar classes are conducted by a professional musician Sindy Dias Wanigasekera
In addition to these SLANZ also sponsored Tabla lessons to the community by the Guru Subhash Muneshwar.
SLANZ Quiz Night based on Sri Lankan culture, sports, economy, general knowledge, has been held annually since 2010. It has proved to be a popular event in the Sri Lankan community calendar for the last five years.
Within a short period of twelve years SLANZ has made major strides in delivering a wide range of quality cultural outputs benefiting adults and children. Such great success has been made possible by the hard work and foresight of successive Presidents of SLANZ, Dr. Ramyasiri, Dr. Ranatunga Kalupahana, Chandra Wijesekera, Wasantha Marasinghe, Athula Wanasinghe and Dhammika Muthumala, together with their management committees.
With the support of children and their parents, SLANZ hopes to continue to provide its services to the community alongside the other Sri Lankan community organisations.