Kiwi song for Buddhist leader

03:21, May 28 2014
visitng Dalai Lama
ENLIGHTENING TIME: Sandringham’s Abraham Kunin and singer Junelle met the Dalai Lama while visiting India and gave him a copy of a song they made for him.

Not everyone gets to meet the Dalai Lama - let alone twice.

But Sandringham singer Junelle got to do just that, gifting the religious leader a song she wrote for him during a three-week trip to India earlier this month.

"It was actually a dream come true," she says.

The 30-year-old has hosted the Dalai Lama on previous visits to New Zealand but did not know whether he would remember her.

She travelled with her partner Abraham Kunin who produces her music at their home studio.

"This time he'd met a whole lot of people before us and we were the last people to meet him. He took his glasses off and was rubbing his eyes and was like, ‘I know this face. New Zealand!'."


The track, Refuge, is sung in English and Tibetan and features a mantra which Junelle says daily.

"The purpose of the song was to thank him and pay homage to people that rescue others from dark spaces, so not just him . . . To thank mothers and sisters and friends, whoever rescues you from that moment of darkness."

A Buddhist for 10 years, Junelle says some of the Dalai Lama's Auckland-based monks offer her teaching and support in tough times.

The refuge mantra is a prayer for students to ask their teachers to take them in their care in all lifetimes, Junelle says.

She says it is also about creating good karma and becoming a better person.

"It was in my experiences of hosting the Dalai Lama that I realised he really was a walking, talking, personified practitioner . . . He's pretty special and absolutely selfless."

Junelle describes her music as ambient electronica with hints of pop but says writing honestly can be a struggle.

"I really wanted it to help people and I felt if that was going to be a goal I needed to do that genuine journey on my own as well. Genuinely write from an honest space so sometimes I'd write pages until I got to that honest space," she says.

Junelle's EP Just This Sky is out on June 6 and she performs at Galatos on June 7. See for tickets.

Go to or for more information.

Central Leader