Ton­gan hos­pi­tal­ity a hit for AIMS crew

Bay News - - Front Page - Will Johnston

Well whack awig on me, in­ject some fat in tomy lips and call me Wil­gelina Jolie!

Iwent to Tonga last week and came as close as I’ve ever come to steal­ing a Ton­gan baby! I jest of course. I look noth­ing like An­gelina.

Still, that baby though. Di­rectly after this pic was taken he fell asleep on me and Iwas swamped with amyr­iad of Ton­gan ladies laugh­ing, tak­ing pics of their small­est fam­ily mem­ber asleep on the palest per­son they’d ever seen on their front porch!

I think the sun re­flect­ing offmy white skin and­myred­dish com­plex­ion had clearly tired out his beau­ti­ful big brown eyes and it was all too much. I’d have had a nap in that sit­u­a­tion too.

Wewere in Tonga film­ing some of the beau­ti­ful and tal­ented Ton­gan kids who are com­ing for the An­chor AIMS Games 2018. Wewere also having a chat with mul­ti­ple other sports or­gan­is­ers to see how we can help de­velop sport at an in­ter­me­di­ate school level in Tonga.

There’s a bad­minton team com­ing to have a crack at the kiwi kids this year and thanks to An­chor we were able to give them a bunch of cool gear. Then we got in­vited to the house of a cou­ple of the team mem­bers— two gor­geous, quiet, hum­ble and clearly tal­ented twin girls.

I saw them prac­tic­ing bad­minton on their dusty drive­way be­fore school and I’d seen them at train­ing the night be­fore at their school hall, which is miss­ing part of its roof and still doesn’t have power since Cy­clone Gita hit in Feb.

They’ve over­come a bit of ad­ver­sity and are com­ing to NZ to ex­pe­ri­ence our cul­ture and hos­pi­tal­ity, and I can tell you that we are go­ing to have to pull out all the stops to even get close to match­ing the Ton­gan hos­pi­tal­ity.

They gave us amas­sive fruit bas­ket, a bag of co­conuts and wa­ter­melon three times the size of my­head (and­my­head is MAS­SIVE — both phys­i­cally and metaphor­i­cally) to say thanks for com­ing for break­fast. Weshould’ve been re­ward­ing them! Then they turned up at our ac­com­mo­da­tion after school with more sou­venirs.

They’re just thank­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to come to NZ and play sport, and that some­one would be in­ter­ested in their team and coun­try. An op­por­tu­nity and an ethos that prob­a­bly­most kiwi kids take for granted ev­ery day. We can learn a lot from Tonga.

Hope they bring that baby though. I need more cud­dles! Will Johnston is host of The Hits 95FM Day Show. Live and lo­cal from 9am-3pm, ev­ery weekday in the Bay of Plenty.

PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Will Johnston was a big hit with this baby when he vis­ited Tonga.

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