14 Mar 2006

Tongan MP urges NZ role in Tonga's reforms

4:22 pm on 14 March 2006

The Pro-Democracy MP, Achilles Pohiva, has urged the New Zealand government to get more involved in moves towards political reform in Tonga.

Mr Pohiva and his fellow People's Representatives have told the visiting New Zealand foreign minister, Winston Peters, of the need for democratic change and also talked of the poor state of the economy.

He says Mr Peters had stressed that New Zealand must stay out of the affairs of a sovereign country.

But Mr Pohiva says New Zealand has already indicated it will assist a parliamentary select committee looking at political reform.

"The position of New Zealand and Australia is that they don't have to interfere in our local affairs. But I said to Mr Peters that New Zealand has made a contribution towards what we call an aspect of political development in Tonga. Once New Zealand makes such a contribution it automatically becomes part of the process."

Mr Peters met the head of the select committee, Prince Tu'ipelehake, and was briefed on its progress.

Mr Peters also met the Crown Prince Tupouto'a in a previously unscheduled appointment.