17 Dec 2018

Tonga's Speaker talks modern parliament rebuild with NZ

11:47 am on 17 December 2018

Tonga's Speaker has visited New Zealand to look at ways parliamentary procedures can be improved and to discuss the rebuild and modernisation of Parliament.

The Speaker of the House, Lord Fakafanua

The Speaker of the House, Lord Fakafanua Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koro Vaka'uta

The 100-year-old chamber of Tonga's Legislative Assembly was destroyed by February's Cyclone Gita.

Lord Fakafanua met with his counterpart, a number of parliamentary staff, the Māori Affairs select committee, the Minister for Pacific Peoples and other MPs.

Fakafanua was also afforded the rare opportunity of joining his counterpart on the floor of New Zealand's House during question time.

"We saw how orderly but yet effective the questioning was in terms of developed democracy. We want to adopt some of those procedures. At the same time we also had a very fruitful discussion with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Lord Fakafanua said the rebuild of Tonga's parliament would take at least three to four years.

He also met with Tongan-born MP Jenny Salesa while in New Zealand, to discuss how parliamentarians engage with constituents.

"This was one of the lessons taken back by our women MPs who were here on a previous trip. They came back with the idea of setting up constituency offices in Tonga and we've actually established this as a new thing and our meeting with Jenny Salesa is to gain insight into how these offices operate and work."

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