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Martha Vir passes away eight days before turning 105

Pratima Nand

Pratima Nand

Auckland, July 8, 2024

 

Matha Vir (10.07.1919-02.07.2024) INL File Photo

It is with great sadness that I write to announce the death of Martha Vir who peacefully passed away in her unit in Lynfield, Auckland, while seated in front of Jesus Christ.

A funeral service will be held on 10 July at 11 am at the Wesley Roskill Methodist Church, 276 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham, followed by her burial at the Waikumete cemetery at 2 pm.

Contact family member, Margaret on 02102962363

Greetings from Queen Elizabeth II

Ms Vir had always anticipated a letter from the Queen. On 10 July 2019, her wish was fulfilled, as she celebrated her 100th birthday.

From our Archives
100 Years of Love, Care and Community Service

Mrs Vir was born in 1919, into a farming family in Varoka, Ba Fiji Islands. She lived her childhood and adolescent years in Rakiraki, Fiji. At the age of 16, in April 1935 she married Samuel Vir and moved to her marital home in Navua and later relocated to Tavua, Fiji.

In 1944, Mr and Mrs Vir moved to Toorak, Suva, then to Tamavua and finally settled in Lami before migrating to Auckland, in 2001 to be reunited with her children.

Sadly, she lost her husband six months later, in March 2002.

Ms Vir has six surviving children (four daughters and two sons), 18 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and one great, great, great-grandchild. She lost her second eldest son, Daniel (aged 14) in 1954, her eldest son, Peter (aged 54) in 1993 and her grandson Samson in 2000 before she left Fiji. She also lost her great-granddaughter.

Ms Vir visited India six times, leading tour groups.

On her initial trip in 1959, she met the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Throughout her visits, she met 45 Bollywood icons; Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Premnath, Shashi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Nirupa Roy and Farida Jalal to name a few.

Ms Vir was well-versed in the Hindu and Biblical scriptures. She could recite passages from the Bhagavad Gita and Ramayan.

Life of Spirituality and Prayer

Raised in a staunch Hindu background, she converted to Christianity in 1947. She had not looked back since and had dedicated herself wholeheartedly to Christian doctrines.

She strongly believed in the power of prayer. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in New Zealand and abroad asked her to pray for them when sitting for exams, going for job interviews or anything else of significance.

They were assured that her prayers would bring in positive results.

She would start the day by lighting a candle and uplifting her entire family in prayer.

Whilst in Fiji she was a dedicated member of the Methodist Church in Toorak Suva.

She was an active member of the Ladies Fellowship Group and assisted in fundraising by making roti parcels, chutney and cakes, (baked by her daughter-in-law, Gerda).

She worked behind the scenes without seeking recognition. She humbled herself as God’s servant. She used to gather all her children once a month to clean the inside and outside the Church.

In Auckland, she took pride in sweeping the outside of the Lynfield Community Church on Saturday afternoon to have God’s House presentable for Sunday morning service.

She was given the honour of cutting the Dudley Methodist Church’s 100th-anniversary cake on one of her visits to Fiji.

Despite her advancing years, frailty and medical concerns, she insisted on walking to her local Church for worship. Her devotion, commitment, courage, diligence, determination and perseverance amazed people both young and elderly.

Service to Communities

While living in Fiji she opened her doors to deserted children, single mothers, and victims of domestic violence. She acted as a mediator to couples undergoing marital crisis and hence succeeded in her attempts of reconciliation.

Ms Vir drank milk from only one cow and hence she believed that is the only reason she lived so long. When she got married, her father sent the same cow with her to her marital home.

She was a surviving cancer patient; she was diagnosed with breast cancer 69 years ago and was operated on by a surgeon in Fiji and with God’s grace she has had no setbacks.

Despite the many tragedies in her life, she remained steadfast in her commitment to God. She was a source of inspiration to many and continued to help people in need.

She preferred to be as independent as possible in her own unit. She managed to do her own laundry and was meticulous in housekeeping. She loved to cook under supervision.

She was mentally intact and even just before her death, related her childhood stories.

One of her favourite stories was riding on a horse and assembling the cows in the cow shed. She was a joy to her parents and a pride of the community.

Laudable Hobbies

She loved flowers and looked forward to annual flower shows in Ellerslie. She had magical green fingers cause any plant that she nurtured was sure to blossom.

Cooking was another of her hobbies. She took pride in food preparation and was able to feed many people.

She spent most of her time at home in her final years, watching Hindi serials and her favourite Jhansi Ki Rani.

Ms Vir had accomplished a lot in life. Most of her family and circle of friends were not around to mark her 100th birthday but she was thankful to God for her longevity.

Pratima Nand is a community leader and social worker based in Auckland. A Justice of the Peace and Marriage Celebrant, she has been involved in promoting the welfare of the communities in which she serves. Ms Nand occasionally writes for Indian Newslink.

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