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Cablegate: Tongans in New Zealand Appalled by Violence But

VZCZCXRO8467
PP RUEHPB
DE RUEHWL #0930/01 3301832
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261832Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3530
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 4623
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0616
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA 0536
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000930

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR D (FRITZ), EAP/FO, EUR/RPM, AND EAP/ANP
NSC FOR VICTOR CHA
SECDEF FOR OSD/ISD JESSICA POWERS
PACOM FOR J01E/J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/24/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL TN NZ
SUBJECT: TONGANS IN NEW ZEALAND APPALLED BY VIOLENCE BUT
STILL BACK REFORM

REF: SUVA 508 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Consul General John Desrocher for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d
).

1. (C) Summary. A prominent member of the Tongan community
in Auckland reports that, while local Tongans were shocked by
last Thursday's violence in Nuku'alofa, it has not dissuaded
them of the need for democratic reform. Local Tongans put
much of the blame for the violence not on the pro-democracy
movement but on thugs in the employ of various business
rivals. Far from decrying the New Zealand/Australian
intervention as antidemocratic, most New Zealand Tongans
support it as necessary for law and order. End summary.

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2. (C) Sefita Haouli, a New Zealand-based Tongan, operates a
local radio station that serves the Pacific Islands
community; Haouli is well plugged in to local Tongan opinion.
He told the Consul General that New Zealand's 50,000-strong
Tongan community was shocked by last week's events.
According to Haouli, Tongans in New Zealand maintain strong
interest in their homeland through bonds of family, village
and church.

3. (C) Haouli was dismissive of suggestions that local
Tongans might oppose the presence of Australian and NZ forces
in Tonga as a prop for the monarchy. Haouli argued to the
contrary, reporting that local Tongans believe the
NZ/Australia intervention was inevitable and essential to
restoring order. Despite the initial reaction of some
pro-democracy activists, most local Tongans see violence as a
far more serious threat to reform than the NZ/Australia
intervention.

4. (C) Haouli considers himself a moderate, but one who
sides much more with pro-democracy forces than with the
monarchy. He feels in step with the rest of the Tongan
community in New Zealand, which he describes as generally
pro-reform. Tongans resident in New Zealand, he explained,
appreciate first hand the benefits of democracy and a
transparent, free market economy. Haouli did not think last
week's violence would weaken the cause of reform or frighten
off those who support democracy. Haouli argued that the
nature of the violence was key in that regard.

5. (C) Closely echoing reftel, Haouli attributed the
violence not to the pro-democracy movement directly but to
criminal deportees from Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.
Haouli described a complicated web of business rivalries,
with factions hiring deportees to intimidate and sabotage
their opponents. These business factions have connections
with various political elements, including reformers.
Reformers, he said, took advantage of these connections to
whip up public support, a plan that spun out of control last
Thursday.

6. (C) This criminal involvement, Haouli said, meant that
Tongans in New Zealand did not see last week's violence as an
attack by pro-reform forces on the status quo, but rather
looting (with a clear anti-monarch and anti-foreigner slant)
by criminal thugs. Had deaths or injuries occurred among
political figures on either side, as opposed to people
Tongans consider common criminals, Tongans might have been
much more inclined to reconsider reform.

7. (C) Like Sitiveni Halapua (reftel), Haouli put
considerable blame on PM Sevele for creating the conditions
that led to the violence, but Haouli stopped short of calling
for Sevele's resignation. Like Halapua, Haouli said that
Sevele's presentation of an alternative proposal for reform,
outside the framework set up by Halapua's National Committee
on Political Reform, was the spark that set off the
conflagration. Haouli noted that demonstrations in
Nuku'alofa had grown more and more frequent and that violence
may have been inevitable.

8. (C) Haouli passed on a report about two businessmen
particularly close to the King (possibly brothers Sefo and
Soane Ramanlal) who fled to New Zealand during the violence.
Haouli reported that the men, who had a very difficult time

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getting out of Tonga, had called the King upon their arrival
in New Zealand and berated him in very harsh terms for not
better protecting them and their businesses. If true, Haouli
said, this would be an extraordinary case of lese-majeste and
a significant blow to the King's prestige. Haouli found it
interesting that the government had not intervened more
aggressively during the violence, suggesting the King was not
confident of the support of his police.

9. (C) Kalolo Fihaki, a Tongan who works for the New Zealand
Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs in Auckland, generally
agreed with Haouli's assessment. He confirmed that Tongans
in New Zealand overwhelmingly support the intervention by
Australia and New Zealand, noting that those two governments
had been the strongest proponents of reform. Fihaki argued
that no one had benefited from last week's events. The King
had been unable to stop the violence, the PM had looked
incompetent, the democracy movement had associated itself
with thugs, and the Nuku'alofa business district had gone up
in smoke.
McCormick

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