A Ton­gan twist on Aus­tralia Day

Ton­gan dancers en­ter­tain at Mun­dub­bera’s cel­e­bra­tions

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Felicity Ripper Felicity.Ripper@cnbtimes.com.au

TON­GAN work­ers make up a great per­cent­age of Mun­dub­bera’s pop­u­la­tion and it’s strength­ened the bond be­tween Aus­tralia and the Poly­ne­sian coun­try.

Em­brac­ing the Ton­gan cul­ture, dancers from Mun­dub­bera’s Free Wes­leyan Church of Tonga put on a pow­er­ful per­for­mance at the town’s Aus­tralia Day cel­e­bra­tion.

Mounga Hea­moni youth leader Sione Aho said the church mem­bers en­joyed per­form­ing for the com­mu­nity, ex­press­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion of what Aus­tralians have done for their coun­try.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate that part­ner­ship and what Aus­tralia of­fers the work­ers who come over from Tonga, as part of the Sea­sonal Worker Pro­gramme,” he said.

“It cre­ates op­por­tu­nity for our small is­land.”

Cul­tural dances and songs en­ter­tained a large crowd in front of Mun­dub­bera Li­brary on Satur­day, Jan­uary 26.

“The per­for­mance that the women did is a tra­di­tional dance which the girls al­ways do grow­ing up in Tonga, like a com­ing of age, and as they get older they learn much more com­plex dances,” Mr Aho said.

In­trigu­ing the au­di­ence, older mem­bers of the Ton­gan com­mu­nity pinned bank notes on to the dancers mid-per­for­mance.

“It shows our chil­dren that we ap­pre­ci­ate what they have done, obey­ing us as their par­ents to go to prac­tice and take the time to learn the dances,” Mr Aho said.

“So when the big day comes, ev­ery­one comes out to watch their danc­ing and the par­ents show ap­pre­ci­a­tion by pin­ning the money on them, and the com­mu­nity can fol­low.”

Mr Aho said they ap­pre­ci­ated that North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil had reached out to in­clude them in Aus­tralia Day cel­e­bra­tions.

“As a Mun­dub­bera rep­re­sen­ta­tive I’m al­ways over­whelmed by the sup­port that we get from these groups,” Deputy Mayor Faye Whe­lan said.

“I want to make ev­ery­one aware that most of these Ton­gan folk are lo­cals, they live here among us, and the oth­ers are Pa­cific sea­sonal work­ers so they’re al­most lo­cals be­cause they are here so of­ten.”

PHOTO: FELICITY RIPPER

CEL­E­BRATE: Ton­gan dancers en­ter­tain at Mun­dub­bera's Aus­tralia Day cel­e­bra­tions.

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