A Tongan twist on Australia Day
Tongan dancers entertain at Mundubbera’s celebrations
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.”
CELEBRATE: Tongan dancers entertain at Mundubbera's Australia Day celebrations.