6 Jun 2012

Changes to land laws welcomed by Tongan expats

1:45 pm on 6 June 2012

The recommendations of a four-year long investigation into Tonga's land laws have received a warm reception in New Zealand's large expatriate community.

Under the current law Tongans who move overseas lose their rights to hold land.

However, the Royal Land Commission has now recommended expatriates be allowed to retain their land rights.

The head of the Tongan Advisory Council in New Zealand, Melino Maka, says the recommendation recognises the contribution of over half of the Tongan population who live overseas and contribute to the Tongan economy by paying remittances.

"It's very important in terms of our own connection to Tonga because it's all tied to the land. It's not so much from a monetary point of view, to us it's more than any monetary value, the land belongs to family and we think it's very important to recognise that."

Melino Maka says he hopes the government will accept the commission's recommendations and pass them into law.