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Motion to Decline Tonga Assistance Defeated

30th January 2007

Press Statement

“Motion to Decline Manukau Assisting Tonga’s Rebuilding Was Defeated”

A motion signed by 7 councillors to decline a request to send a delegation of Council staff to Tonga to assist with the rebuilding of Nukualofa was defeated by Manukau City Councillors at an Extraordinary Council Meeting on 30th January.

Otara’s Manukau City Councillor Su’a William Sio, says that he was pleased that the majority of councillors decided to support the sending of Manukau City council staff to advise the Tongan government on issues of town planning and how best to rebuild the capital city of Tonga.

“Manukau has a responsibility and a duty to respond to the request by the Tongan Prime Minister,” he says, “Manukau has a very special relationship with the Pacific including Tonga which we ought to grow and strengthen.”

“The long term benefits of Manukau assisting the rebuilding of the economic heart of Tonga is that we also promote trade with local businesses which in turns provide jobs for our local residents and their families.”

“I’m proud that Manukau City Council and staff are highly regarded by the government of Tonga to ask for our advice, and to pay for it. This shows how strong Manukau’s reputation is on the Pacific region and speaks highly of the skill and expertise of our local staff.”

A condition of sending 4 staff for a period of a week to 10 days is that the Tongan government would be meeting all costs including reimbursement of staff time.

“I am also particularly proud that we have had other staff provide similar services (on their own time) to other countries such as Rarotonga, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Australia, America and East Timor.”

This information was requested by Councillor Sio and was revealed in a supplementary report by the Chief Executive, Mr Leigh Auton, that similar assistance was provided to other countries by a number of staff in the past 5 years.

“Staff take leave all the time. It is good practice to give them outside experiences.”

“We should be celebrating that we have staff working for us that other countries have confidence in their abilities & skills and seek out to utilize their expertise.”

“I am disappointed that councillor Jamie Lee-Ross, the mover of this motion, could not see that we live in a global economy and that sending our staff to provide assistance in the rebuilding of Tonga’s capital city is an investment which will in the long run benefit us in Manukau.”

- By relieving the remittance burden placed on the 14,000 Tongan ratepayers in Manukau,

- By opening the door for Manukau businesses to win contracts in Tonga;

- By assisting Tonga to grow so that it is able to buy goods & services and trade with Manukau businesses long term.

- These businesses will turn provide local jobs for our residents.

“I view the defeated motion as a waste of time, frivolous, and has brought the mana and dignity of Manukau City Council and the good name of the people of Manukau under disrepute.”


Additional information:

Of the 7 councillors who originally signed the request to call an Extraordinary Council meeting for the purposes of declining sending a delegation of MCC staff to Tonga, 5 councillors ended up backtracking and voted against the very motion that they had signed to support, when it was formally moved.

© Scoop Media

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