‘One Year On’ as seen by K Gurunathan
By Alan Tristram May 12, 2010
I met Guru outside the Paraparaumu Library as he fed tidbits to another of his many fans — Great Dane Inspector Morse.
It probably makes a change from dealing with the rotweilers of Fairfax Media who forced him out of his long-time job at the Kapiti Observer a year ago.
“It was a year ago when the proverbial shit hit the fan,” K Gurunathan – Guru to you and me – mused as we shared another flat white at the near-by Novella Café.
Guru said the sudden loss of his job at the Observer was a real test for him personally.
“The Kapiti Observer was my brand – and I was Mr Kapiti Observer around town,” he said.
So, he said, the period following his dismissal was a test of his Faith.
“But you learn more about yourself and what is of value.”
Secondly, he said, the break enabled him to look again at his role as a journalist.
He said his choice of journalism as a vocation reflected the fact of his commitment to the value of democracy in the community.
“That’s where my heart has always been.”
“A difficult year”
But the past year has probably been, as the Queen once famously said, an ‘annus horribilis’ for Guru.
The worst part? On the professional side, Guru says, the fact that his journalistic colleagues did not really support him was ‘difficult.’
The best part? The public support and backing for his cause.
“I’ve been absolutely blown away by the public’s support, “he says,” that’s been the most heartening thing.”
“But it’s not just their support for me. It’s their support for the role of the media in the community – the role of the media in informing people is the critical issue.”
“It’s what New Zealanders are all about – they cherish grassroots democracy. I’ve always thought this, but to be in the middle of it all is fantastic!”
On the personal side
On the personal side, the year has placed huge demands on Guru’s wife Claire, who works as a relief teacher.
Gurus says his wife coped magnificently until she started to relax before Christmas – and suddenly events of the past few months caught up with her.
Things have obviously been difficult financially, too; but the freelance jobs Guru has been getting have started to help him augment his wife’s earnings.
Like other parents, they also have children to think about: TV personality Jessie (25);
Ravi (23) who works in the TelstraClear accounts department; and Ari (12) who goes to Paraparaumu Beach School and according to his father is a ‘big time basketball star.’
Interests and hobbies
For a man who inquires so much about other people’s interests, Guru has an interesting range himself.
His latest fad is canoeing, because his son Ari has taken it up. “So he’s dragging me into it.”
Then there is gardening, and – reflecting his wide intellectual interests – reading.
But his bed-rock interest is his Church work. A convinced Christian in the best sense of the phrase, Guru is a senior leader for the Kapiti Hope Centre at Lindale, a Pentecostal group.
His feelings about Christianity are simple and sincere:”You must walk the walk,” he say
The next big story: The need for Iwi transparency
Now that he is back in action mode, Guru is focusing on the importance of openness and transparency in iwi organizations.
It’s an issue he has been pursuing professionally for several years now.
He also thinks the KCDC should take a more robust and open line on Maori issues.
‘We should not be afraid of robust debate on issues like the placing of a macron on place names,” he says.
And he points to Whakaminenga and Whakarongotai as two Maori organisations which should be far more open in their governance.
“One significant point,” he says, “is that people holding the power – and I am talking of the Maori side – are not open and transparent.”
“My point is this: Maori can no longer hide behind accusations of Pakeha prejudice.
“They have the intellectual power to engage in debate.”
Well, it seems apparent to KIN, that as long as the Kapiti community has Guru scrutinizing and reporting on issues of importance, our local democracy is that much more secure.