9 Jun 2014

Tongan MP says NZ PM should attend PI Forum

6:12 pm on 9 June 2014

A Tongan MP and academic, Sitiveni Halapua, says New Zealand's Prime Minister should not be skipping an upcoming leaders summit.

John Key has announced he will not be attending the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Palau at the end of July, saying it is too close to New Zealand's general election in September.

He says his foreign minister will attend in his place.

But Dr Halapua says Mr Key should be there.

"I believe it is very important that he should go because I understand previous Prime Ministers of New Zealand have sometimes [had] much closer elections, sometimes a few weeks, but they still attended."

Sitiveni Halapua says New Zealand and Australia are two of the strongest leaders in the region and have an important role to play.

This year's meeting is expected to discuss lifting Fiji's suspension, in light of its elections, also scheduled for September.