Hangi in the Country, now in its third year, is a Sister City event held in the Liverpool Plains Shire attended by a contingent of visitors from Blacktown City along with Shire residents. Blacktown City Council (BCC) Deputy Mayor, Julie Griffiths, led a party that included BCC staff, students, youth leaders, and other community representatives as well as performers from Blacktown and overseas. Over three days they participated in a wide range of activities, this year focussed on Youth and Drought assistance.
“Again, this year, the Blacktown community shared their friendship and generosity with us lifting local morale during the current drought crisis. I extend my thanks to BCC, their community representatives as well as our own LPSC staff, local youth and community members and organisations who contributed to making the event such a resounding success,” said Mayor, Councillor Andrew Hope.
“It was an extremely busy time with our visitors arriving on Friday afternoon, enjoying miniature train rides and a look around the exhibits at the Quirindi Rural Heritage Village. This was followed by a visit to Windy Station Woolshed. The trip out there allowed them to see first-hand how the drought is ongoing and impacting the region and they enjoyed their experience at the Windy Woolshed learning a little about life on the land and how agritourism is being developed in the Shire. On their return to Quirindi, they went to the Quirindi Racecourse Function Centre for the official welcome and a meal,” he said.
“Also, on Saturday two free concerts were staged at the Royal Theatre. Elvis entertainer David Cazalet performed a special show for older members of the community and Jay Laga’aia, well known for his role on Play School, was a huge hit with the young people who attended his special children’s show.
Councillor Hope said the climax of the weekend’s events is the Hangi Dinner.
“The Hangi meal is prepared by Blacktown based Maori Wardens Australia. There was also a taste of Korean food and storytelling by Korean cook, Heather Jeong, plus entertainment with performances by Jay Laga’aia, David Cazalet and local Liverpool Plains talent. It was a great night, enjoyed by all,” he said.
“Rawiri Iti, the President of Maori Wardens Australia, on his third visit to Quirindi for the Hangi, really summed up the friendship between our two communities when he explained his feelings for and connection with the Liverpool Plains,” he continued.
He said, “on my way here, I was shocked to see how dry it is, and I thought to myself, how can you as people deal with the trauma you are facing with this horrid drought? The only thing we can do is to come here and hug you and spread some hope and raise some awareness back in the city of your situation and continue to raise funds to donate to assist you. The symbolic thing about a Hangi is that it means we are no longer strangers, we are at one with each other, and as Sister Cities, we are!”
“Following all these wonderful events we farewelled our Sister City friends as they headed back home, tired but knowing they had shared something very special. Again, thank you Blacktown City community. You have shown your kindness and generosity to our community over and over again and we are extremely grateful,” Councillor Hope concluded.
Rawiri Iti (Maori Warden), LPSC Mayor Andrew Hope, and entertainer and TV personality Jay Laga'aia at the welcoming ceremony held at the racecourse function centre
Saturday saw the staff and youth leaders from Mitchell, Blacktown Girls, Plumpton and Glenwood High Schools, along with the Korean youth delegation, take part in an International Youth Connect Forum with a series of youth focussed workshops with young leaders from Quirindi High School and the surrounding district.
(Photo courtesy Quirindi Advocate)
At the Hangi Dinner, Blacktown City Council, Deputy Mayor, Julie Griffith, presented LPSC Mayor, Councillor Andrew Hope with the National Sister Cities Australia award won jointly by the 2 councils for their drought relief and youth combined projects in 2018.
(Photo courtesy Sally Alden Photography).
Jay Laga’aia proved a huge hit singing many of the songs children learn on Play School and getting them to join in with him