Thursday, 2 May 2024 - 6:17am


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Constable Aston Lang with guest of honour Dr WY Rambukwelle and Southland Sri Lankan Society President Gama Rajapaksa.

The Southland Sri Lankan Society recently came together to celebrate Aluth Avurudda, the Sinhalese New Year - and joining them was Southern’s newest MPES team member, acting Ethnic Liaison Officer (ELO) Constable Aston Lang.

 Aston is filling the position for a month and was invited along for his first event in the role.

“The role of ELO is something that definitely has interested me,” says Aston. “Having a diverse cultural background myself, I see it as an opportunity to connect with different cultures and promote diversity.”

Aston was asked to speak at the event and used the opportunity to talk about how diversity is a key value of New Zealand Police and a strength it possesses.

“The more diverse we are as an organisation, the more we can represent the people in our communities, which is a really good thing," he says.

"I made sure that I brought that up to encourage careers in Police too, as a bit of a plug for recruitment.”

A plate of some of the Sinhalese New Year delicacies.

The event was a celebration that began in the morning and ended well after midnight, with speakers, games, traditional dancing and music, and - to Aston’s delight – Sinhalese New Year delicacies.

“It was some of the best food I’ve had all year!” 

The Southland Sri Lankan Society has more than 200 members and Aston’s presence at the event certainly continued the trend of strong connections between the group and Police in Southland.

“It was a chance to continue to show our commitment to this group, learn what’s important to them and strengthen connections.”

It seems to be working a treat too.

“In the days after I’ve been stopped on the street a couple of times by members of the group that were there, and it shows that our communities can be comfortable engaging with us, telling us what’s on their minds, and that we’ll be there to listen.”

Ayubowan... the Sinhala language - the most widely spoken language in Sri Lanka - is a popular greeting which incorporates a wish for a long life for the recipient.