• Toni Rea

Wrapping up the 2013 Family Reunion

Malo e lelei famili. ‘Ofa pe ‘oku alu’alu lelei ‘ae me’a katoa ‘I he feitu’u ‘oku mou takitaha nofo ai. Kuo ki’i fuoloa talu mei he tutuku atu ‘etau Reunion ka ‘oku ou pehe ke fai hono ki’i fakama’opo’opo mei he vakai vaivai a’aku. It’s been a few weeks since our Reunion concluded but I thought it would be useful to write a short wrap up from my point of view now that we are back to our usual routines – some shovelling snow & some picnicking on the beach!



Firstly I would like to thank everyone who attended the Reunion – for some it was a great sacrifice of time & money to make it. We also appreciate the challenges for those who couldn’t make the journey. Secondly my thanks go to all those who helped make the Reunion a success:


• our priests: Palenapa, Ekuasi & Unaloto for leading our Eucharistic celebrations

• our heroes in the kitchen: Akata, Paame & Seini – not forgetting Mike on the BBQ!

• our facilitators for their contributions to individual sessions: Tia, Tavo, Analena, Clare Rea, Lotiola, Poini Si’i, Mele Sikei & Jimmy

• our group leaders for great leadership

• our designers for the programme cover & T-shirt designs: Isa’ake (Si’i) Manu & Sela Rea

• our technical experts loading & editing material for the website: Tavo & Isa’ake Si’i

• our lead MC Isa’ake (Etu) Manu


Some of the highlights of this Reunion for me were:

• the presence of 6 of my brothers & sisters: Maliana Lahi, Lotiola, Sr Clare, Pelenatita, Tavo & Palenapa

• remembering those who have passed on and on whose shoulders we stand

• the reconnection made with our Samoan family

• the numbers of third & fourth generation young people & children who attended

• the sense of spiritual connection in our Masses

• enjoying the beautiful surroundings at Huia

• the emerging leadership in our second & third generations

• the amazing array of talent evident across our family across academic, religious, education, sporting, health, cultural, health and management fields.

• the sharing of Tongan traditional craft expertise & family responsibilities

• those great moves in the Talent Show

• late night kava sessions with ‘tall’ tales from Matahau & beyond

Some improvements I believe we can make in the future:

• organise some parallel sessions to enable the older generation to continue to talk & share while the programme for the younger generations continues

• ensure earlier confirmation of who will definitely attend

• organise more prior preparation for some of our up and coming young MCs

• plan more interactive opportunities for our youngsters to appreciate Tongan craft & customs

• include a session with a specific focus on some of the issues that are holding back some of the branches of our family

Our Theme – “TOWARDS TOMORROW - EMBRACING WHO WE ARE NOW AS THE FOUNDATION FOR A STONGER FUTURE” – was a deliberate forward looking theme and one I believe we need to continue in the next Reunion to fully realise its potential. We began a journey at this Reunion which needs to be sustained in to the future.

Our Next Reunion - due to time constraints there wasn’t an opportunity for a formal meeting to decide on the venue & timing of the next Reunion. However the overwhelming sense from informal discussions was that we should return to Tonga for the next Reunion. Secondly that we should hold the Reunion in the middle of the year 2016 to coincide with the school break in June or July – the reasoning for the middle of the year is that the weather is cooler then in Tonga, there is less travel congestion compared to the Christmas period and the timing will probably be more convenient for our Northern hemisphere families. Anyway your feedback is welcome. Analena, Poini Si’i, Hiko Si’i supported by Maliana Lahi, Lotiola & Sr Clare will be our core group in Tonga to convene our Reunion while all of us overseas will fund the expenses.

Conclusion

‘Oku oatu ha fakamalo loto hounga mo’oni kiate kimoutolu katoa na’e poupou mai ke lava hono fakahoko ‘etau Reunion. Tau fehufaki’aki ke tau toe fe’iloaki mo’ui lelei ‘I he’etau Reunion hoko mai. ‘Ofa lahi atu & Arohanui Uncle Toni

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