27th of September: a six o’clock start to our second day in Tonga, has the majority of the 27 boys training for the big game on Monday against the Tupou boys. And from the look of their team… we will need it.
Breakfast is next in line and from our previous experiences of the Tupou College hospitality we all know that we are in for a treat. After this we are all outlined on the day’s proceedings. The major events of the day went as follows: container opening, bus to markets, a scenic drive, a visit to the poorest part of tonga and dinner at a beach side restaurant. To say the least we were excited.
At 9.30 the smiles on the Tupou College boys and staff said it all- it was time to open the container. The container was filled with many donated items such as IT gear, books, science equipment, rugby gear and many other useful resources. The ceremony started with the Tupou boys singing their prayers (their voices still amaze all the boys). This was then followed by speeches by Rev.Dr Fisi’ihoi Mone, Mr Quince and various staff who talked about how much this gesture of kindness from Newington actually means to Tupou College.
Our tour captain, Zac Newton, then presented their Senior Prefect, Isileli Eke, with the key to the crate and some photos were taken so that this day could be relived again. After the crate was officially opened and blessed, Tupou and Newington College boys came together in mateship and respect to unload the invaluable resources together.
After spending a few hours unloading the container, all of the Newington boys boarded a bus and headed for the markets. On the bus trip Mr Quince broke into a sweat as he had taken on the role of the money exchanger. This was the most chaotic part of the trip so far. Upon arrival at the markets it was evident that our two countries were vastly separated by wealth as the markets to most boys looked exactly like something out of a movie. Although with family in mind we rushed off to the markets in search of gifts for them upon our return. The gifts that were available were all very cultural and had their own distinct meaning behind each creation. The gifts available ranged significantly from hand wooden fans to whalebone carvings.
The market closed and we embarked upon the next part of tour which included a scenic drive along the coast of Tonga. At the beginning of the drive we saw crystal clear water, isolated islands and lush vegetation. Though as we continued down the coast we were informed that we were approaching the poorest part of Tonga and we were unsure of what to expect. As we drove through this poor neighbourhood around the old garbage dump, a dead silence broke throughout the bus and emotions soon turned to guilt as we compared our lifestyle to that of these people. To describe and write what we saw and felt is impossible as it is something you have to experience yourself to understand the enormity of the situation that they face everyday of their life. We set out for a scenic drive and were met with the cruel reality of poverty.
After this emotional experienced we were grateful to be able to go out to dinner at a beachside restaurant. We arrived early, giving us time to walk along the tropical beach where we enjoyed the warm water, coral and beautiful views. Dinner was served in buffet style and again the hospitality was amazing with many cultural dishes for us to enjoy, including another roast pig.
After dinner on Friday night at Vakaloa Beach Resort the usual entertainment would normally consist of a casual night of one man singing. Though to our surprise Nia had organized a performance consisting of various dances from the countries of Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii and New Zealand. All of the boys are very thankful for the opportunity to experience the night and many said that it was one of the best nights of their life.
Written by Jonathon McConnell & Lachlan Cameron