Newington College’s 9th Annual Tour to Tupou College, Tonga, took place during our mid-year break.
There has been immense growth in Newington’s relationship with Tupou College since Dr Mulford led a touring party to the College in 2009 to re-invigorate the relationship, which extends back to 1866.
Mr Cameron Quince, Mr Tom Lever and Ms Tamara Smith, ONU representative Mr Harry Jordan (ON 2011) and students from Years 9 to 12 were hosted with warmth by the Tupou College community.
The students all signed up as Service Learning participants and many boys toured with the sole reason of serving their brothers at Tupou College.
Despite arriving at 1:30 am on a Thursday in the middle of the Tongan school holidays, we were greeted by Tupou College’s Principal and numerous senior teaching staff, their families and students.
During our time in Tonga, Mr Quince worked with senior Tupou College staff on improving options and content of courses offered at the College. He also met with a number of staff to continue our efforts to support Tupou College in improving their nutrition program.
Mr Lever worked with Tupou College Mathematics staff, including Ms Klarissa Stellmacher, who is currently on secondment from Newington. He also ran rugby coaching clinics for Tupou College staff and students and carried out reconnaissance work for Newington Challenge.
Ms Smith worked alongside Newington College English teacher Ms Mary Nosworthy, who is currently on secondment at Tupou College, to help direct the College’s upcoming first performance of Romeo and Juliet. She also organised musical workshops and visits to the Tupou College Museum.
Our first service learning activity on our first day in Tonga was farm work alongside boys and staff from Tupou College in the newly established Newington Food Bowl paddock. On Friday, we toured Tongatapu, including the capital Nuku’alofa, and visited the local market and blowholes.
We spent Saturday night catching up with families of Tongan Old Boys at our annual reunion dinner at Tupou College. The event was attended by many current and past Newington parents. Our boys listened to traditional music and enjoyed watching Callum Stewart (11/MA) collaborate with Tupou College Head of Music Eloni Nau and his friends.
The Sunday chapel service was a shining example of the immersion in Tongan and Methodist culture that our touring party experience each year. Rev. Alifeleti Atiola delivered a sermon based on the theme “Integrity, Character and Legacy” and the similarities between our college communities were palpable in his message. The service was followed by a Tongan feast, full of heartfelt prayers and speeches, and then a much-needed afternoon of rest.
Sunday night gave four members of our touring party the opportunity to participate in the Poloto, a celebratory service in the Moulton Chapel. Many of our musicians played alongside Tupou College students, and we heard some humorous and earnest speeches from staff and boys from both communities.
School resumed on Monday morning and our boys attended lessons alongside their Tupou College brothers for the next three days, a unique chance for them to live as a Tongan.
Our rugby tourists enjoyed a Rugby 7s fixture where they played alongside and against their Tupou College brothers in front of a large crowd that thoroughly enjoyed the game.
The next day, we decided to host an Aussie BBQ for the Tupou College boys as a thank you for their wonderful hospitality. We cooked and served a sausage sandwich for every boy on campus as part of their dinner.
Our farewell night was particularly special, with guests including His Excellency the High Commissioner for Tonga Mr Andrew Ford and his wife. Mr Ford spoke about how impressed he was by the “people-to-people” contact between Newington and Tupou College and how our relationship is a shining example for Australia and our neighbours in the Pacific.
The Newington students and staff presented gifts to our hosts, including seeds, agricultural equipment and books that will be used in the Newington Food Bowl Project.
We are blessed to have such a unique relationship with our brother school in Tonga and are grateful for the extraordinary efforts that they made to welcome and host our touring party. Our founding father Rev. Dr James Egan Moulton would be proud of the love and compassion shown by both of our colleges when we spend time in each other’s communities.
Thank you to all boys and staff for your enormous contributions whilst on tour.
For information about the soon-to-be-launched 2019 Service Learning Tour to Tonga please contact Mr Quince via email at CQuince@newington.nsw.edu.au