Her Royal Highness Princess Angelikase Latufuipeka Tuku’Aho of Tonga, visited Griffith University’s Logan campus today to a rousing reception from a group of local Pacific Islander high school students.
The Princess’ visit to Logan came in response to her interest the University’s LEAD program (Legacy, Education, Achievement, Dream) for Pasifika students delivered in four partner Uni-Reach high schools that have significant numbers of Pasifika students: Beenleigh, Keebra Park, Woodridge and Glenala State High Schools.
The Princess was the guest of Griffith’s Student Equity Services as the visit provided an opportunity to meet with Griffith’s Pasifika outreach and to open the third LEAD Leadership Forum on the Logan campus.
Princess Angelika Tuku’Aho was warmly welcomed by the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost, Professor Marilyn McMeniman, and the beautiful voices of a community choir, before she gave a heartfelt keynote address for the high schools students in attendance.
In her speech she reflected on her love of family, heritage, culture and knowledge, as she outlined the many personal benefits that she had gained through pursuing a higher education.
“Investment in knowledge still pays the best interest,” she said.
Princess Angelika Tuku’Aho, spoke with great empathy towards the local high school students as discussed her own struggles as she strove to achieve her goals, such as her homesickness whilst studying overseas for a bachelor of business management.
“The calling was greater than the cost,” she said, “And with my knowledge and experience from higher education, I can assist Tongan communities here in Australia and at home in Tonga.”
Princess Angelika, who is also the Tongan High Commissioner to Australia arrived in Brisbane on 21 March and held a full-day visit to Glenala State High School, which has a large Tongan community, before attending the LEAD Leadership forum.
The Princesses address was followed by a performance of traditional dance as well as the fun and engaging words of Mr Jack Ryan, Principal of the Brisbane Adventist College.
As a New Zealand born Samoa, Mr Ryan spoke on common terms and often in their own language as he empathised with the students and shared some of his own story of graduating from youthful misdemeanors to success through education and a love for his cultural heritage.
“I went back to school, put my head down tail up and did some work,” he said. “I found where the library was and I actually went in…”
“I discovered books, I disciplined myself to listen in class. I mean really listen and I was amazed to find that I started to hear what was being said.
“As I began to learn my eyes were opened to the vibrant cultures and rich histories of the world, my teachers at Calton Boys high school taught me that I lived in a much bigger space than the west side of Auckland city.
“My view of what I could be had been limited by the stereotype cast for me and of Pasifika peoples and what we could or couldn’t achieve.”
The welcome event was completed by an exchanging of gifts by Princess Angelika and the organisers before the LEAD workshops commenced.