7 Jun 2007

NZ foreign minister says patience needed for Tonga's political reforms

7:03 pm on 7 June 2007

The New Zealand foreign minister, Winston Peters, says the people of Tonga need to be patient to ensure they come up with the right model of political reform.

This comes as the Public Servants Association has issued an ultimatum to the government to ensure reforms are in place in time for next year's election.

Mr Peters, who has just completed a trip to Tonga in which he met the government, civil society groups and the pro-democracy movement, says the gulf between the various options for reform is not great.

He says the problems can be resolved if people have the necessary goodwill.

"Looking from the outside we would regard the various options being put up as not vastly different, in fact, far more similar than you would see in other countries arguing over the kind of electoral system they might want. But I did say to them, look, the reality is that you have to own the system that you create and you have to make it work."

Winston Peters