Anne Sikimeti Lutu
Anne Lutu was a vibrant pioneer for multicultural services in the City of Canterbury community.
Anne Ngaki Sikimeti was born on the 1st of April, 1952, the second youngest of 13 children. Growing up in Tonga, she lived in poverty-stricken rural village. When attending a Wesleyan primary school, but showed significant academic promise. In 1965, she was admitted to St. Mary’s High School and became involved in a women’s leadership program aimed to foster educated female professionals in the Tongan community. She came to Australia in 1973 to study at Granville TAFE, followed by a number of roles in Tonga and Australia including business, social work and community liaison. Much of this work was completed as a volunteer. She has been awarded and recognised by a stream of organisations including federal, state and local government and Tongan royalty.
Anne was renowned for her overwhelming flamboyance and charm, a quality that engaged emerging communities throughout the Canterbury area and overcame even the most challenging of cultural barriers. As a member of the Multicultural Access Committee, she petitioned Canterbury Council to provide an Emerging Communities Resource Centre at Lakemba, which provides counselling, literacy programs, training, sustainability workshops and more to emerging communities in the area. Open in 2011, the centre quickly required additional space to cater for demand, expansions announced in 2012.
Anne was also responsible for the foundation of the Canterbury Harmony Group, which, using Harmony Day as its focus, aims to promote inclusiveness and collaboration in the Canterbury Community. Anne was renowned for her warm, colourful manner when hosting Harmony Day at the Orion Centre, an occasion filled with dancing and performances from multiple community groups and ethnicities, as well as guest speakers such as Robert Furolo and Mayor Brian Robson.
Anne maintained and fostered strong ties with City of Canterbury and the Kingdom of Tonga, elected the first secretary of the Tongan Catholic Community of Australia in 1976. She remained an essential bridge between official bodies such as council and community members with Pacific Island heritage. In 2004, Anne was awarded the title “Limosini ‘Oe Vaomapa” by the late Prince Tu’ipelehake for her tireless support for Tongan and Pacific Islander communities in Australia. She was the first woman to be given this honour by the prince.
Anne Latu died on the 21st of August, 2011. In commemoration of her service to the community, the Anne Lutu award celebrates and honours businesses, organisations and individuals who, like Anne, have endeavoured to foster strong relationships and exceptional outcomes in multicultural matters.