Tongan royalty, Australian racing royalty and a local ‘who’s who’ gathered for a 60th birthday party in Queenstown this week.
The birthday girl was Australian businesswoman and part-time Queenstowner Louise Waterhouse, who met her husband, former German ski racer Guenther Raedler, in the resort 34 years ago.
Waterhouse is the Sydney-based honorary consul for the Pacific island kingdom of Tonga, following in the footsteps of her famous bookmaker father Bill Waterhouse, who’s been Australian honorary consul general for 40 years.
Louise told Monday’s gathering at Jack’s Point that she was “deeply, deeply touched and honoured” that King Tupou VI, crowned last year, and Queen Nanasipau’u attended.
Addressing the king, she said: “Our families go back three-quarters of a century from when your father studied at Sydney University at the same time as my father, and your father was the first Tongan to get a tertiary education.”
Tonga, she said, now had the highest literacy rate in the world, at 98.5 per cent, and one of the highest per capita numbers of PhD graduates - “not to forget His Majesty has not one but two Masters degrees”.
Louise added: “My real passion in life is my role with Tonga … and I feel very privileged to be in a position through that role where I can make just a small difference to this wonderful island nation.”
Other celebrities at Monday’s party included Louise’s Australian brother Robbie Waterhouse, his wife Gai and their family.
Gai Waterhouse is Australia’s most famous horse trainer while Robbie and their son Tom, like Robbie’s father and grandfather, are prominent bookmakers.
Adding to the star appeal, Gai and Robbie’s daughter Kate was with her husband, former Aussie rugby league star Luke Ricketson, who played a record 301 games for the Sydney Roosters and represented both Ireland and Australia.
Meanwhile, Raedler, who as usual yodelled at the end of his hilarious speech, told Monday’s gathering he was also celebrating 40 years since he first visited Queenstown.
His proudest possession, he said, was his New Zealand passport.
Jack’s Point developer and birthday party guest John Darby says Queenstown should be grateful for what Louise and her husband have done for the town.
“Guenther has been probably one of Queenstown’s hugest and most influential ambassadors, particularly in Europe, and then Louise likewise, for Australia, has been a huge ambassador and hugely important in terms of the recognition Queenstown’s gaining from the discerning Australian market.”