Tongan students here in force

Students take part in a debate at the Castle St lecture theatre last night, part of the New...
Students take part in a debate at the Castle St lecture theatre last night, part of the New Zealand Tongan Tertiary Students' Association conference being held in Dunedin.PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Tongan students from around New Zealand will be bringing a riot of colour to Dunedin this weekend, as the annual New Zealand Tongan Tertiary Students' Association conference closes.

The conference, hosted by the Otago Tongan Students' Association (OTSA), has been running all week, but the public components of the event will be held at the weekend.

Each year the event was held in a different city - and this time about 244 students were taking part in total, from the North Island and the South Island, including 40 from Otago, OTSA president Melania Napa'a said.

The Amatakiloa Cultural Night, at the Edgar Centre on Saturday night, which would start about 6pm and was free of charge, would be the most colourful part of the week.

On Sunday, there would also be two church services at the centre open to whoever wanted to attend. A Tongan service would start at noon and an English and Tongan service would begin at 6pm and include a "Christian rally".

The rally would include acapella performances from the nine Tongan tertiary students' groups, and a competition for the best action song.

The week featured activities and events closed to the public, including an academic day, which was held yesterday, where a series of Tongan scientists spoke, and a ball, which will be held tonight.

"[The conference is about] celebrating not only who we are as Tongans but also as tertiary students."

A debate was also held yesterday, themes including obligations to Tonga as a New Zealand born-Tongan, mental health and climate change.

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