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First Female Local Government member of Tongan heritage pledges support for community initiatives

4 November 2019

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA: The first female local government member of Tongan heritage, Councillor Koliana Winchester (neé Schaaf) of the Moreton Bay Regional Council’s Division 6, had an extremely productive meeting with members of the steering committee of the Brisbane Tongan Community Inc (“BTC”) in Redcliffe.

Committee members in attendance raised a range of community initiatives with Cr Winchester, including projects targeting Tongan language and culture, bilingual media platforms, agriculture, community projects, kava imports, the elderly, youth and community.

LR – Mele Fifita (scholarship student from Tonga in her first year nursing at Griffith University) holding Matelta jr Fa’onevai (daughter of BTC Secretary), Rev Suli Helu (Assistant President of the BTC) and Cr Koliana Winchester.

With a pledge to donate $1,000 of her own private funds as well as initiate discussions with her office as to future funding opportunities to support community initiatives in 2020, such as the QLD Tongan Language School and other opportunities for the local community in the Northside of Brisbane, the committee and members are truly grateful for the support and look forward to working closely with Cr Winchester.

Cr Koliana Winchester is the first woman elected to the Local Government in Queensland, of Tongan heritage. Following years of volunteering in her area, Cr Winchester was first elected as Redcliffe City Councillor from 2005 to March 2008, and then again as Councillor for Moreton Bay Regional Council in 2012, the third largest local council in Australia. She was again elected at the 2016 local government elections.

Assistant President of the BTC, Rev Suli Helu, Church Minister with the Siasi ‘Uēsiliana Tau‘atāina ‘o Tonga ‘i ‘Aositelēlia, shared with Cr Winchester his experiences with the late Alfred Kalamafoni, the first member of the Tongan community also elected to local government, former Councillor in the Ipswich region.

Rev Suli Helu shares, “we appreciate the momentous work undertaken by Cr Koliana Winchester. She not only represents her region, but also Tongans and the Pasifika community in Brisbane. Any benefit to the Tongan community is also a positive recognition for all Pacific Island communities.”

Mele Fifita, a Tongan scholarship student funded by major sponsors and donors of All Saints Anglican School at the Gold Coast told BTC Media, “It was such a blessing to meet Cr Koliana Winchester and listen to her vision within the community.” She continued, “An inspirational woman, paving a positive future for our Tongan women in Brisbane and in the Kingdom of Tonga.”

The Tongan community, especially those residing in the Northside of Brisbane look forward to future projects with Cr Winchester.

“I am very honoured to represent the community on the Council and also Pacific Island migrants and I encourage our Tongan and Pasifika people who seek to make a difference to represent our communities at the State or Federal level,” Cr Winchester shared.

Cr Winchester together with BTC Secretary, Mrs Leilehua Fa’onevai (legal practitioner) and her daughter Matelita Jr Fa’onevai.

Cr Winchester continued, “As a people, we give so much to others, which is showcased with our Tongan Rugby League team members, our people have the heart or loto to‘a to represent our heritage and culture, notwithstanding any disadvantage.”

She added, “The Australian community needs to see our passion as a people to support others and our culture of giving.”

Cr Koliana Winchester, was born in the Kingdom of Tonga, migrated to Australia in 1983 having married an Australian, Bill Winchester. She has an ongoing history of engagement with the vibrant Pasifika community emerging in Redcliffe and surrounding suburbs.

This is encouraging for our BTC and we look forward to future community projects with Cr Winchester within her electorate and greater Brisbane community.

Media Contact: Sulieni Layt via email on or mobile on +61(0) 420 639 764.


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