October 17, 2022
Delegates from Gunnedah Shire have returned from a successful visit to Tonga that has opened a huge range of opportunities for partnership between the two regions.
Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey said at the invitation of Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Tukuʻaho, a delegation of 18 business, community and Council representatives visited to further the newly signed Sister City Agreement between Gunnedah Shire and Kolomotu’a in Tonga.
The five-day visit 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.
“This is Tonga’s first Sister City Agreement and with this visit, we saw that Kolomotu’a is just as excited about the possibilities as we are,” Cr Chaffey said.
“We were absolutely blown away by the hospitality of not only Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Tukuʻaho, but everyone we met throughout Tonga, from the school children who lost part of their school in this year’s tsunami, to the amazing women of Kolomotu’a and Council and government officials. It was an incredible honour.
“Our delegation went with one key objective – to better understand how to progress this relationship and to achieve our joint vision in signing this agreement. I believe we have done that and are now on the pathway to a bright future for both Gunnedah and Kolomotu’a.
“We are looking at partnerships in four key areas – arts and culture, sports, education, and employment and the economy.
“I congratulate 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 have made great connections at all levels - with our friend Her Royal Highness the Princess, with the Australian High Commission in Tonga, with the Tongan Government, Kolomotu’a Council, training facilities, schools, sporting and community organisations and businesses.
“There is still plenty of hard work to be done, but we have come back full of drive, full of knowledge, and ready to explore some very practical ways forward.
“We thank the people of Kolomotu’a and Tonga from the bottom of our hearts, and know the two regions will be stronger together.”
Caption: Members of the Gunnedah delegation pictured with Tongan representatives and community members following a church service.
For more information, contact Gunnedah Shire Council’s Communications team on (02) 6740 2100.