The fourth victim in last month’s fatal Flat Bush fire was laid to rest yesterday afternoon at the Manukau Memorial Gardens.
Refugee Council of New Zealand secretary Kaileshan “Kailesh” Thanabalasingham escaped the December 22 blaze and was being kept in an induced coma at Middlemore Hospital.
He passed away just before 7am on Friday morning due to pneumonia.
The 47-year-old escaped from his family home by jumping out of the window, onto the roof and across the neighbour’s fence but was severely burned.
His 11-year-old daughter and 69-year-old father-in-law managed to escape.
His funeral comes 20 days after that of his son, wife and mother-in-law.
Family spokeswoman, barrister Deborah Manning, told the New Zealand Herald the family is devastated and have asked for privacy.
She said family were with Mr Thanabalasingham when he died.
The fire claimed the lives of his son Bareth Kailesh (5), wife Bhamini Theiventhiran (39) and mother-in-law Umadhevi Theiventhiran (66).
His colleagues at Refugees as Survivors NZ (RASNZ) are devastated.
RASNZ chief executive officer, Dr Ann Hood, said the organisation is deeply saddened to hear of Mr Thanabalasingham’s death.
“Kailesh’s life encapsulates the spirit of what it means to be a refugee. He arrived in New Zealand with nothing. Within just a few years, he created a safe place for his family to grow up, built a very successful career and worked tirelessly to support his own community and new refugee families settling in New Zealand.
“He touched the lives of so many people with his warm and sunny nature and his compassion and determination to make a difference. New Zealand is a richer place as a result of his efforts to foster a humane and inclusive society were all people are respected and valued.”
Beautiful tributes flowed from family, friends and colleagues at the funeral service at the Manukau Memorial Gardens.
There was not a single dry eye as everyone shared tearful messages.
“You may have left this earth but you will always live in our hearts,” one video tribute said.
His daughter Krishah Kaileshan read out a beautiful poem she wrote in memory of her dad.
Lawyer Deborah Manning, who worked closely with Kailesh, told his daughter that she should be so proud of her dad who is loved by so many people.
“We will always look after you Krishah like your dad who looked after and cared for everyone. Beloved Kailesh made such a big difference to people’s lives.”
Outreach co-ordinator of RASNZ, Diana Swarbrick also shared her condolences and said the organisation is devastated by the news.
She confirmed the Givealittle page, which was set up in support of Mr Thanabalasingham and has raised more than $83,000, will remain open.
All donations will now go into a trust for his daughter, who is currently being cared for by Mr Thanabalasingham’s sisters.
By:Laura Brookes and Farida Master