Last week, 18 representatives from Gunnedah returned from a reciprocal visit to Gunnedah Shire’s Sister City of Kolomotu’a in Tonga.

These representatives came from businesses, community organisations and council and, at the invitation of Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Latufuipeka Tuku’aho, the delegation had a full five-day itinerary of visits and meetings.

The itinerary included an audience with the Acting Prime Minister, a function at the Australian High Commissioner’s residence, meetings with Kolomotu’a Council, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Rotary Tonga, the Tonga Institute of Science and Technology, the Australian Pacific Training Coalition and many more organisations.

We were given a very warm welcome by our friends in Tonga, who are as excited about this Sister City Agreement as we are.

It was a wonderful, productive visit with one main objective – to better understand how to achieve our joint vision in signing this agreement. 

After our time in Tonga, we are looking at partnerships in four key areas – arts and culture, sports, education, and employment and the economy.

We have some clear, practical ideas and are now on the pathway to a bright future for both Gunnedah and Kolomotu’a.

Congratulations to the members of our diverse delegation who committed their own time and resources to seize this opportunity and who made direct links in Tonga that will lead to real benefits. They were wonderful ambassadors for Gunnedah.

We made connections that will work for both regions in the future. Along with Her Royal Highness the Princess, our valued contacts include the Australian High Commission in Tonga, the Tongan government, Kolomotu’a Council, training facilities, schools, sporting and community organisations and businesses.

We are only at the beginning of this journey, and there is still a lot of work to be done to realise the potential of this relationship. But we are off to a great start.

The delegation has arrived back in Gunnedah armed not only with contacts, but with great enthusiasm and some clear ways forward. We have also brought with us a large ceremonial tapa made especially for Gunnedah Shire, that tells the story of both Gunnedah and Kolomotu’a, a special gift that shows just how well the two can go together.

On another note, I would like to wish our HSC students all the best over this busy time.

It can be very stressful, but all your hard work will not be wasted.

There are many ways to achieve what you want to achieve. If this is the key to your dreams, we wish you all the best.

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