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Eulogy for Dame Laurie Salas by UNA NZ President Joy Dunsheath

Feb 05 2017

Eulogy for Dame Laurie Salas by Joy Dunsheath UNA NZ President.

d. 26 January 2017.         
Funeral at Old St Paul’s, 11am 2 February 2017

We gather with the Salas family, knowing that their loss is personal and profound, to give thanks for the life of Dame Laurie Salas.

We are deeply saddened by the passing of the beautiful Dame Laurie – Wahine Toa.  She worked tirelessly for peace, security, human rights and for women.  She was a champion of the vision and values of the United Nations.

Her strength as a person was expressed best through her unfailing support of the aims of the Charter of the United Nations.

Laurie was a gracious and benevolent presence at our United Nations Association meetings.  She would always make reasoned statements which would add greatly to the debate. Always, she displayed dignity and leadership.

She was President of the United Nations Association from 1988 to 1992. I want to give you a quick overview of some examples of her views and actions. 

In 1989 she criticised the power of the big 5 of the Security Council: … “The General Assembly, she wrote, was given no authority to enact binding law but only the power to make recommendations to the Security Council.”

On other issues she writes about literacy, justice and refugees. She continues to urge the end of apartheid in South Africa. She trusts that under Nelson Mandela’s wise leadership that …” true justice and democracy will replace the unhappy and unequal system which … is an affront to the principles of the UN Charter.”

Until recently she was writing Letters to the Editor.  She was in her 80s when she wrote about the effect of smacking and hitting children:

“The end result will, I hope, be a society where children have the same protection from assault as adults and animals do, and New Zealand will be seen to comply with all the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

And one more example. … about Trade and Tibet she wrote:

“I applaud your Tibet editorial.  It is no time for silence on Tibet violence, and, as with others who have written to the Prime Minister I hope the Government will take note.”

Laurie has dedicated her life, beyond her family, to various organisations for women whose objectives embraced the concepts of peace, justice and humanitarian assistance.

These are PPSEAWA (Pan Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association), UN Women (formerly UNIFEM NZ) GWNZ, Graduate Women NZ (formerly New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women) and National Council of Women.

At PPSEAWA, she shared recently thoughts about Parihaka and passive resistance.

Laurie supported the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women for most of her life.

She donated to the IFUW Hegg Hoffet Fund for refugees and displaced women graduates and Laurie encouraged me for 6 years to continue work for this international fund.

I recall her calling at my home with a donation for refugees as she toured a Cambodian student round Wellington. She cared for international students and their wellbeing.

Laurie took great interest in the arts.  As a long-term member of the Friends of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery she has supported the Gallery’s growth into a national arts institution.  

Laurie was a pioneering and outstanding supporter of The Peace Foundation, The Peace Movement Aotearoa, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).  She promoted peace education and believed in non-violent protest.

You, Dame Laurie, have left a wonderful legacy. 

Let us be part of that legacy, by continuing your work for peace, justice, respect, human rights, and tolerance.  These are values enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

Dame Laurie Salas, Wahine Toa

Rest in Peace.  Arohanui.

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