Thuten Kesang, a Tibetan residing in New Zealand, has been announced as one of the recipients of this year’s Queen’s Service medal for Public Service. This medal is awarded for valuable voluntary service to the community or meritorious and faithful services to the New Zealand Crown or similar services within the public sector, whether in elected or appointed office. The announcement was made in Wellington on December 31 as part of the New Year’s Honors list. Thuten is the first Tibetan to receive this honor.
A graduate of Dr. Graham’s Homes in Kalimpong, Thuten Kesang immigrated to New Zealand several years ago. He has been active in promoting the cause of Tibet, single handedly for the initial years, and is a founding member of Friends of Tibet in New Zealand. Today, Friends of Tibet (NZ) has members throughout the country and is the largest network of Tibet support groups in New Zealand.
Under the initiative of the Friends of Tibet, a Parliamentary Lobby Group was established in 1994, with Ian Revell, M.P. elected as its Chairman. There are over 40 Members of Parliament in this group currently.
Thuten Kesang has also been active in providing humanitarian assistance to Tibetan refugees in the Indian subcontinent.
In an interview to the VOA Tibetan service on September 12, 1996, the Dalai Lama, who was on a visit to New Zealand, commended Thuten Kesang saying, “For some time there was just one Tibetan family, the family of Thuten Kesang. Even though he was the lone Tibetan, Thuten Kesang was able to make himself useful and work for the Tibetan cause. I have admiration for his effort.”