By Kevin O'Sullivan | Posted: Thursday July 28, 2022

Tongan Prime Minister, Siaosi Soveleni, shared fond memories of his time at TBHS on his return to the school on 19 July.

An impressive reception in Hogben Hall by the Tongan community of South Canterbury awaited the PM on his arrival.

Rector, Dave Thorp, along with Old Boy’s representatives Don Garland and Kevin O’Sullivan were on hand to receive the distinguished Old Boy, now Prime Minister.

PM Soveleni, was especially delighted to catch up with his 1988 1st XV Rugby coach Grant McFarlane and former team mate Gavin Miller. A visit to the Memorial Library brought forth recollections and reflections for the Tongan PM. He gratefully accepted a copy of the Timaruvian of 1988.

Old friends meet again. Siaosi Sovaleni and Grant McFarlane  — Image by: TBHS

In his address to the 150 strong gathering in Hogben Hall the Tongan Premier spoke fondly of his time in Thomas House and TBHS. PM Sovaleni spoke of the formative experience of time at TBHS. Leaving Tonga for Timaru was in itself a life changing move. He reflected on experiencing snow fall for the first time, walking daily past the Lovelock Oak and all that it signified, along with the relevance of the school motto ‘Knowledge is Power.’

PM Sovaleni made the most of his year in Timaru. He was a towering figure in the 1st XV and proved himself as a top academic, securing the Proxime Accessit (runner up to Dux) award In 1988.

Siaosi Sovaleni began his Premiership in November 2021. The disastrous earthquake and tsunami earlier this year continues to be a social and economic challenge for Tonga.

THSOB has made a modest start to a fundraising appeal for our Pacific neighbour.

It is possible to do more. The fund raising appeal continues with details below.

The THSOBA will ensure that the portrait of the Tongan PM Hon Siaosi Sovaleni graces the Honours Wall of the Memorial Library in 2022. 

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