The Kingdom of Tonga lies significantly more than a cooee away from the landlocked north-western NSW Shire of Gunnedah, but talks between representatives from the two locations have uncovered opportunities the two could realise together.
Mayor of Gunnedah Shire Cr Jamie Chaffey said there is a strong alignment of needs between Gunnedah and Tonga, with the visit marking the beginning of a valuable friendship.
“There are significant employment opportunities here in Gunnedah, both in agriculture and far beyond, and Tonga is interested,” Cr Chaffey said.
“Our population has not kept pace with Gunnedah’s employment growth. Employers have told us that people are not available locally to fill the demand for skilled and unskilled positions.
“Council’s Skills and Training Working Group are focussed on securing immediate and long term solutions to these local workforce shortages. As part of this initiative we are extending a hand of friendship across the Pacific to offer Tongan workers an opportunity to gain experience with our local industry leading businesses and help support their families and communities.
“We could see a wonderful strong relationship between Gunnedah and Tonga build from this visit. There is so much we could share – skill-sharing, training, culture and tourism, the list goes on.
“Gunnedah has so much to offer and we would love to see our whole community become part of this journey as we build our friendship with the people of Tonga.”
Photo Caption: (From left to right) Tasimani Telefoni (Third Secretary Tonga High Commission), Curtis Tu’ihalangingie (Deputy Head of Mission Tonga High Commission), Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey and Sione Vaka (Liaison Officer, Seasonal Worker Program, Tonga) at Porcupine Lookout in Gunnedah.