18 Sep 2017

NZ Tongan leader concerned about royal backing of Maori Party

2:53 pm on 18 September 2017

A Tongan community leader in New Zealand is upset the Tongan king was apparently approached to endorse the Maori Party before this week's election.

In a release the Maori Party confirmed that Maori King Tuheitia approached his Tongan counterpart King Tupou VI to ask Tongans to provide a candidate for the New Zealand elections.

It said its Maungakiekie candidate Manase Lua had been blessed by the Royal Houses.

But Tongan Advisory Council Chair Melino Maka said involving the royals in such situations was dangerous.

Chair of NZ's Tonga Advisory Council, Melino Maka

Chair of NZ's Tonga Advisory Council, Melino Maka Photo: tonganz.net

"One of those institutions that we respect and all of a sudden they are involved in trying to choose which political party that the Tongan people should vote for," Mr Melino said.

"It's dangerous because there's becoming now two institutions that I see , the church leaders, they are trying to decide whose political party that their members should be voting for and also now the royal family."

Melino Maka said the royal endorsement could backfire as Tongans don't like being told who to vote for.