The staff and students of Newington College adopted Royal protocol last Monday when the College played host to His Majesty King Tupou VI of Tonga. The College welcomed the King to the Stanmore campus where he officially opened two of the College’s newest learning facilities – a new Drama centre and a new Year 7 learning centre named ‘The Tupou College Centre’.
The Drama centre consists of a new theatre with raked seating for 200, industry standard sound, lighting and technical equipment, extensive back stage accommodation and a refurbished former Chapel for drama teaching. The second building, ‘The Tupou College Centre’, consists of eight classrooms with interconnection to allow for configuration as large studios as well as various specialist teaching areas and a tiered lecture space. It was named as such in recognition of the long and close historical links between Newington College and the Kingdom of Tonga.
Tupou College, a boys’ secondary boarding school in Toloa on the island of Tongatapu, Tonga, is the brother school of Newington College. Both educational institutions were established by James Egan Moulton, a nineteenth century Wesleyan Methodist minister who, after helping to establish Newington in 1863, sailed to Tonga two years later in order to set up a similar College on the Island. Tupou College remains the oldest secondary school in the Pacific Islands and celebrated its Sesquicentenary this year.
Newington College boys have been visiting their Tongan brothers since 1972 and in recent years, these trips have involved community support, volunteer work and outreach projects through the College’s Service Learning Program. This has allowed students to contribute to the Tupou College community and experience Tongan culture firsthand. Equally, Newington boasts a rich history of educating Tongan students and in 2009 the College set up a Tongan Bursary scheme which aims to support Tongan students in obtaining qualifications at high school level and beyond. Most notably, the College has a proud history of educating several members of the Tongan Royal family, including the father of His Majesty King Tupou VI, His late Majesty King Tupou IV.
Newington was both thrilled and hugely honoured that His Majesty King Tupou VI agreed to conduct the opening ceremony and the College extends its sincere thanks to His Majesty, as well as Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u of Tonga and the Tongan High Commissioner in Canberra, Princess Angelika Latufuipeka.
The opening ceremony proved to be another milestone in the long and interrelated history of Newington College, Tupou College and the Kingdom of Tonga.