Planning Skills To Be Used In Tonga
9 January 2007
Planning skills within Manukau City Council will be used to help rebuild the central Nuku’alofa area in Tonga, following the November riots which virtually destroyed the central business district.
Mayor of Manukau, Sir Barry Curtis, says the Prime Minister of Tonga, Dr Feleti Sevele, approached him for assistance late last year.
“Dr Sevele was aware of the planning assistance the council provided the Niue government after the Premier of Niue approached me seeking advice after Cyclone Heta devastated the island in 2004,” says Sir Barry.
“Dr Sevele was also aware of the strong links between the council and the Tongan community in Manukau, so felt he could approach Manukau City Council for planning advice.
“Furthermore, over the last few years the council has established very successful links through Memorandums of Understanding with the governments of the Cook Islands, Samoa and French Polynesia to stimulate economic development and prosperity between businesses in Manukau and the island nations.”
Sir Barry has already met with the Hon Paul Karalus, the Minister for Transport in the Tongan Government and a member of the Government Reconstruction Committee, to discuss the way forward for Nuku’alofa.
Sir Barry stressed that whilst the council would provide planning expertise for infrastructure such as sewerage, roads, footpaths, traffic and landscape architecture, the Government of Tonga would meet any costs.
“The Tongan Government requires a new town plan for central Nuku’alofa and is looking to us and a private sector architectural company to provide our expertise,” says Sir Barry.
“Manukau City Council is keen to facilitate the rebuilding of the city’s business district and sees this as an opportunity to work with our Pacific neighbours on a worthwhile, and potentially very important, project.”
Sir Barry says that the destruction of central Nuku’alofa was a tragedy, but the rebuild project presents an opportunity to re-think the layout, design and appearance of the project.
“The project may act as a catalyst to introduce a more integrated urban planning and management system within Tonga. It is a privilege for Manukau City Council to be recognised for its expertise and invited to be involved.”
A small team from Manukau City Council will visit Tonga in late January. The team is expected to stay for about one week and liaise with local community and government representatives to develop a long-term master development plan.
Sir Barry has advised the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt Hon Helen Clark, of the council’s initiative because the New Zealand government needs to be involved in the rebuilding process.