Gunnedah Shire welcomes new Sister City in Tonga

Gunnedah Shire Council

Gunnedah Shire has welcomed a new Sister City after signing an official agreement with Kolomotu’a, Tonga, on Friday.

Gunnedah welcomed Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Tukuʻaho, the High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Tonga, to the Commonwealth of Australia last week to recognise and formalise the relationship between Kolomotu’a and the Gunnedah Shire.

“We are excited, and honoured to welcome Kolomotu’a as our new Sister City. Gunnedah is, in fact, the first to sign a Sister-City Agreement with the Kingdom of Tonga, which is a great privilege,” Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey said.

“This is a special moment in the history of Gunnedah and our horizons for this wonderful Sister City relationship are endless. We have so much to offer, and so do our friends in Kolomotu’a.

“Both of us have a love of the land and a strong tradition of agriculture. We are both passionate about the future of our homes, and enthusiastic to form a partnership that will further our economies and the cultural richness of our communities.

“There are significant employment opportunities here in Gunnedah, both in agriculture and far beyond, that can provide experience and support for Tongan workers and families. We can share skills, training, culture and tourism.

“I look forward to this relationship growing and strengthening, and exploring all the possibilities it opens to both of us.”

Her Royal Highness shared her excitement at visiting the Shire and said it was wonderful to be able to see and learn first-hand the needs of its people.

“The opportunities Gunnedah is providing for Kolomotu’a is where supply meets demand in areas such as a wide range of administrative, economic, investment, trade, agriculture, tourism, education, cultural, labour mobility and other activities of mutual exchange benefit. This is also where our friendship begins and our people to people relations are strengthened,” she said.

“We hope that we will positively continue and progress in the spirit of the Sister City friendly relations step by step into the future to learn and help each other.”

Cr Chaffey said Tongans had been part of the Shire community for many years, and they had shown themselves to be hard-working, trustworthy, and a kind, caring and loyal people.

“This loyalty has been further demonstrated in Tonga’s commitment to finalising its Sister City Relationship with Gunnedah, despite numerous requests from other councils in Australia,” Cr Chaffey said.

During their time in Gunnedah, her Royal Highness and the official party visited Li’l Achievers Early Learning Centre and Gunnible Pastoral Company, and enjoyed performances by the Gunnedah Conservatorium, Gunnedah High School, Carinya Christian School, and the Tongan community.

Gifts of cultural significance were also exchanged between the Shire and the Tongan delegation and a Eucalypt tree was planted at Wolseley Park to signify the lasting friendship established between the two regions.

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