3 Mar 2009

Tonga opening High Commission in Wellington because of growing links - Prime Minister Sevele

4:46 pm on 3 March 2009

In early May the Tonga Government is to open a High Commission in New Zealand - its third after London and Canberra.

The Tongan Prime Minister, Dr Feleti Sevele, says while the New Zealand High Commission in Nuku'alofa has been sufficient for maintaining links for the past 33 years, now, with funding available, it is time to put a High Commissioner into Wellington.

Dr Sevele says the move signifies the depth and breadth of the relationship with New Zealand.

"Apart from Great Britain, New Zealand is the other longest foreign country that we have had relationships with and of course in recent years there have been more and more Tongans migrating to New Zealand. Our aid engagement is increasing, and as you know, within the last 18 months we have had the temporary work scheme to New Zealand."

The post will be filled by the current Police Minister, Siaosi Taimani 'Aho, who has previously served as High Commissioner in Britain.