HM Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho studies one of my photos.

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Comments (8)

Ian Stehbens on July 11, 2008

HM Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho, accompanied by her daughter, HRH Princess Pilolevu received a copy of one of my photographs.

On receiving the photo, the Queen immediately displayed a real interest in the photo and she and the Princess discussed it. The photograph was taken of the Zion Church in Sydney, the day after the walls were all hauled vertically. Zion Church is being constructed for the Tongan Community in Sydney, and replicates (though I am told it is intentionally a little bigger) the Centenary Church of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Methodist Church) in Nuku'alofa.

The occasion for the giving of the photograph was during the course of the national conference of the Methodist Church of which the Royal Family are active members.

In retrospect, it was a proud moment for this photographer.

Marilyn Whiteley on July 12, 2008

Very properly a proud moment! And you've provided a fine photo of the event.

Ian Stehbens on July 12, 2008

Thank you Marilyn for your empathy and kindness. I am really happy that you have seen this moment, my sister.

Both these women are very active in the church, and full participants in the Conference. There is much history of Methodist Women for you to write about, in Tonga. I believe that Tonga has more PhDs per capita than any other nation, and that there would be an even greater proportion for women.

Queen Salote, the former Tongan Head of State through much of the C20, transformed Tonga through her foci on health and education. She valued education highly, and inspired education for girls. And the two most powerful early missionaries, Dr Moultman and Shirley Baker rivalled each other in the promotion of education.

Why not plan a visit to the Tongan Conference for next June? You will be honoured, and you would relish it. It can be arranged. Would you like to?


Marilyn Whiteley on July 12, 2008

It's tempting, Ian. Let me think--and perhaps remind me to think! Marilyn

Sigurtor Holm on July 14, 2008

Great. You must be very proud of this. Kveðjur frá Íslandi. Sig Holm.

Ian Stehbens on July 14, 2008

Thanks Sig. At the time it seemed just the natural thing to do, but now I do feel that element of pride. I gave it to the Queen for I knew that Her Royal Highness would be coming to Sydney to attend the opening of this new church. And I knew she would be interested.

I send greetings from Tonga, an island in the middle of the South Pacific to an island in the middle of the North Atlantic!


EVA_L on July 16, 2008

I remember this photo and the story of this church, Yan! Interesting to see this picture in Queen's hand!

Best wishes. Eva

Ian Stehbens on July 16, 2008

Perhaps you feel a little proud too, Eva, to see this, for your empathy is obvious, and you have certainly encouraged my photogrpahy. I have had many opportunities like this in the past but that was before Panoramio, and they generally remained private experiences. Now it is shared and you had seen this photograph before the Queen did!

Thanks for your interest and friendship, Eva.


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Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 11, 2008
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    by Ian Stehbens