22 Jan 2007

Manukau town planners still likely to be sent to help in Nuku'Alofa despite opposition - mayor

8:12 pm on 22 January 2007

The mayor of New Zealand's Manukau City is confident that his council will be able to fulfil a promise to provide staff to help plan the restructure of Tonga's capital.

Nuku'Alofa was devastated by rioting in November and Manukau mayor, Sir Barry Curtis, says he was asked for help by the Tonga prime minister, Dr Fred Sevele.

He says this prompted an offer of town planning staff for a week to ten days with the Tonga government covering their expenses.

Some Manukau councillors have forced an extraordinary meeting next week to debate the offer but Sir Barry says he is confident it will go ahead.

"I have every confidence that the council by a majority decision will see their way clear to assist with acting out the role of facilitator to bring together the various private sector interests and other interests to complete the relatively small scale task in Nuku'Alofa. You have got to remember that Manukau has a very large Tongan community."