Life in Nelson good for this family

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 13:00 24/11/2012
Nelson refugee

SETTLED IN: Henry Tunglut with his sons Zosiam Tunglut, left, and Charles Kim Tunglut at the family’s Nelson home. Mr Tunglut came to New Zealand as a refugee from Burma. Photo: MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

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Henry Thang and his family are among hundreds of former refugees who have made Nelson their new home, and apart from the universal challenge of ever increasing living costs: "We are happy here."

The 49-year-old lives in Vanguard St with his wife and five children, after fleeing Myanmar (Burma) about 10 years ago.

Mr Thang spent a year in India and five years in Malaysia before coming to New Zealand.

He said he felt fortunate he didn't get arrested in Malaysia and was able to work there, unlike many of his Burmese counterparts.

Mr Thang's family joined him in Malaysia three years after he had been there. They were arrested at the Thai border, but released after a month and a half.

He said Kiwi people were "very helpful" and he was happy with the support he had received from the Government.

Although life was good in Nelson, Mr Thang said he knew people in the former refugee community who had problems with gambling and drinking.

There were also arguments between married couples sometimes, because New Zealand culture allowed women to have more equality.

Mr Thang's 33-year-old friend, Thang Lian Pau Milun, was found dead at the Centre of New Zealand a week after he went missing earlier this year.

Mr Milun, a Burmese refugee from the same Zomi community as Mr Thang, was said to have been depressed after his marriage ended two years ago. His death was a suspected suicide.

Mr Thang said Mr Milun was lonely and had just lost thousands of dollars gambling, with no money in his bank account.

Settling In relationship manager Claire Nichols said while one had to be careful not to draw too many conclusions from Mr Milun's death, it had led to community response - a training session for community leaders on December 2 called Understanding Depression.

Ms Nichols said former refugees came to Settling In and Refugee Services after his death, saying they didn't understand depression and hadn't known what to do.

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- The Nelson Mail

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