31 Jan 2007

Offer of help to rebuild the Tongan capital could secure businesses contracts for New Zealand firms

10:46 am on 31 January 2007

A south Auckland company says the Manukau City Council's offer of help to rebuild the Tongan capital could help local businesses secure contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The council has voted to support sending staff to help rebuild the Tongan capital after last year's riots.

The move has divided the council with some saying it's irresponsible to use scarce resources to help another country.

But Gilbert Ullrich, of Ullrich Aluminium, says the offer of help will act as an important foot in the door for south Auckland businesses when it comes to securing contracts to rebuild Nuku'alofa.

He says the council doesn't want to make the same mistake the government has.

"Because it's taken the New Zealand government two months to get something together, to organise some sort of fund or some aid to go to Tonga. I congratulate Manukau - the Mayor and the councillors. It's well done."