Meet Stephen Kannangara

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SetWidth300 Stephen
Stephen Kannangara is one of the partners at Kannangara Thomson, and is more than ‘just a lawyer’.
Stephen is of Sri Lankan descent, however he was born and bred in Singapore; his father stowed away on a ship from Sri Lanka to Singapore when he was 19.

After Stephen finished his schooling, as part of Singaporean culture, he was required to do national service; so was in the Military for three years. He was trained to be a fighter pilot and flew trainee fighter jets, but three months before he was due to get his ‘wings’, he was dropped.

While he was in the air force, they helped him save enough money to be able to study law. He has always wanted to be a lawyer; his dreams as a child were to be a pilot or a lawyer. He now had being a pilot out of his system, so it was time to pursue law. It was incredibly difficult to get into law school in Singapore, as there was only one law school for a population of three million people at the time, so he looked overseas; and New Zealand was the first place that accepted him. He knew no one, but had heard great things, so in 1983 he packed his bags and moved to study at the University of Canterbury.  He describes landing in New Zealand as ‘a dream’, with the green spaces, and the fresh air and beautiful scenery.

After graduating, and working as a lawyer in Christchurch and Hamilton, Stephen and his now-wife Anna packed up and moved to Papua New Guinea. They wanted to go to Singapore to practice law, however Singapore does not recognise a Canterbury University law degree. They found a loophole, and after being becoming solicitors of England and Wales, they moved to Singapore for five years, where they practiced law, and had three of their children. They soon realised the advantages of New Zealand as a place to bring up children, so Anna and Stephen moved back, and Stephen starting working for another firm. As soon as Anna came back to work after spending time with the children, they started their own firm; and Kannangara Thomson was born.

His son, now 22, is studying Medicine, his twin girls are 21 and studying Law, and his 14 year old daughter attends Burnside. He loves travelling, and seeing how other people live, and when he is not at the firm, you will find him at his bach in Motunau with his new boat, fishing and entertaining.
Stephen’s favourite thing about Kannangara Thomson is the relaxed nature, and the fact they treat their clients
as their friends. Stephen Speaks Your Language; he speaks most of the Singaporean languages, and can read
and write English and Malay.


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