10 May 2011

NZ foreign minister to visit E'ua during Tonga stay

2:41 pm on 10 May 2011

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, is visiting Tonga for the first time since last year's democratic elections.

Mr McCully will hold discussions with the Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano, and will visit some of the projects supported by the New Zealand aid programme.

Taki Hausia, who runs The Hideaway, an eco-tourism venture on E'ua east of the main island of Tongatapu, will be helping show Mr McCully around the funded projects:

"Platform lookouts, they funded above our national park, and there's three platform lookouts and they've they funded training programmes, hospitality programmes, whale watching, local whale watching programmes, maps, signage, they've funded signage likeWelcome to our Village signs for each village."

New Zealand has given Tonga more than 40 millon US dollars in aid over the past three years and the funds have been aimed at lifting economic performance, strengthening governance and education.

Mr McCully will also visit the Cook Islands where he will hold the first joint New Zealand/Cook Islands ministerial forum.

The ministers will discuss the shape of the future relationship between the two nations.

It's planned these talks will be held on an annual basis from now on.