28 Mar 2012

New Zealand has pivotal role to help Tonga off aid - deputy leader

4:33 pm on 28 March 2012

New Zealand's deputy Prime Minister says the country has a critical role to play in making Pacific economies less dependent on aid.

Speaking after the funeral of Tonga's King George Tupou the fifth, Bill English said New Zealand has a part in helping the Kingdom with its economic issues.

There is concern that the 100 days of mourning following the King's death will have a negative effect on the country's already struggling economy, as businesses are restricted.

Mr English says there has been some good progress recently, especially in aid projects around energy.

"And also through getting the rules right to allow Tonga to export more food products to New Zealand, because New Zealand has quite strict standards around food, so we've been able to help Tonga reach those standards to get more products exported to New Zealand. New Zealand has got a pretty critical role to play to help make these economies more self sufficient and less dependent on aid."

New Zealand's deputy Prime Minister, Bill English.