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Assistance to Tonga will not negatively impact

Media Release
18 January 2006

Assistance to Tonga will not negatively impact on Manukau ratepayers

Concerns that Manukau City Council is committing ratepayers’ money to assist with the rebuild of Tonga’s capital city, Nuku’alofa, are unfounded.

Mayor of Manukau, Sir Barry Curtis, has rejected claims from some councillors that the decision to send a delegation from Manukau to Nuku’alofa is inappropriate or will have a negative impact on services to ratepayers.

“From the outset, Manukau’s involvement has been on the understanding that the government of Tonga would meet the costs,” says Sir Barry.

“The Prime Minister of Tonga, Dr Feleti Sevele, approached me for assistance because he was aware of the planning assistance the council provided the Niue government after Cyclone Heta devastated the island in 2004.

“The Chief Executive of Manukau City Council, Leigh Auton, advised councillors on 5 December 2006 that he had agreed to a request that council provide urgent assistance in advising on the restoration of public facilities and infrastructure which were damaged during the recent riots in Nuku’alofa.

“The Director of Community, Ian Maxwell, made a three-day visit to make a preliminary assessment of assistance and reported back to the Chief Executive.

“The planned week-long visit by a team of four council staff is a follow-up to that visit, and will involve meeting with local community and government representatives to develop a long-term master development plan.”

Sir Barry says Manukau City Council’s involvement would be in the provision of planning expertise for infrastructure such as sewerage, roads, footpaths, traffic and landscape architecture.

Arrangements will be made internally to cover the absence of staff during their visit.

“At any given time we have staff on leave and manage during their absence. There will be no adverse impact on the council’s daily operations,” says Sir Barry.

Sir Barry says Manukau city, particularly the business sector, has also benefited financially from the close relationship that Manukau City Council has developed with Pacific Nations. He notes that Gilbert Ullrich, Chairman of the New Zealand Pacific Business Council, is supporting any assistance toward the rebuilding of Nuku’alofa.


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