Before we know it, Gunnedah will have another royal visit on the horizon.

Our Sister City Partnership with Kolomotu’a in Tonga is a warm relationship, and we look forward to welcoming Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Latufuipeka, the High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Tonga, back to Gunnedah shire in July to celebrate the first anniversary of this successful agreement.

An important part of this visit will be the opportunity to raise funds for Kolomotu’a Government Middle School (GMS).

We visited the school during Gunnedah shire’s reciprocal visit to Tonga in October last year, and our delegation was very moved by the story of the school’s challenges following the devastating tsunami in January last year.

Like many other buildings and facilities on Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu, the school was badly damaged. When we visited, teachers were using a tent as the staff room. Despite this, we will never forget the smiles and the warmth of our welcome by both the children and staff. They are still in need of a library, and this is one concrete way Gunnedah shire can help.

More details will follow, but I urge Gunnedah shire’s groups, businesses and organisations to think about ways they might be able to fundraise to assist in providing a new library for this wonderful school. Every cent will make a difference.

The Tongan delegation will visit Gunnedah from July 14 to 16. The visit will include a ball on July 15 hosted in partnership with the Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This wonderful Sister City Partnership with Kolomotu’a is about business and employment opportunities, but it is also about so much more – culture, sports, education and friendship. It’s a partnership that includes all of Kolomotu’a and all of our own shire.

Here, at home in the heart of farming country, we are in the midst of harvest. It’s a busy and often stressful time for primary producers who work long hours to get their crops to market. I urge everyone to have patience with the increased numbers of heavy vehicles on our roads at this time and remember how important they are to our livelihoods and economy.

To add to this, the challenge to restore our roads to pre-flood conditions still has a long way to go. Massive damage was done to roads and infrastructure by repeated flooding, with some of the effects only becoming apparent some time after the water had receded.

Councils are required to go through stringent processes to be eligible for federal funding, which amounts to millions of dollars for Clifton Road at Simsons Bridge, Breeza Bridge, Bulunbulun Road and Hunts Road alone. That funding is essential to getting the job done properly at no cost to the ratepayer, but the process is a lengthy one. Again, we ask for your patience while these roadworks take place. Please take care, drive to the conditions in areas where roadworks are occurring, and across the entirety of the shire’s road network.

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