Tongan business celebrates national day in Auckland


Tonga is centre stage this week as it celebrates its National Day on 4 November. <!--more-->

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To mark the event, the New Zealand Tonga Business Council held its first Tonga National Day in New Zealand. More than 100 people attended the event this week.

Viliami Latu, Tongan Minister of Tourism and Commerce acknowledged the special relationship shared by Tonga and the New Zealand Government. Mr Latu said that although Tonga had experienced low growth the economy was recovering. This would be further improved through policy and structural reforms.

Initiatives such as the amendment to the Business Licencing Act and establishment of the new Tourism Authority would help develop an enabling environment for private sector development.

Mr Latu said the changes had led to increased employment opportunities with Scenic Hotel Group seeking 400 more workers and there had been a 30% increase in manufacturing. Reducing the costs of electricity through renewable energy would also provide more opportunities for investment in Tonga.

Mr Latu invited the private sector to step up and work together with Government to reduce the trade imbalance between New Zealand and Tonga.

New Zealand Tonga Business Council Chairwoman Rachel Afeaki Tamoepeau welcomed the guests that included Lupepau’u Tuita from the Tongan Royal Family, Minister of Commerce and Tourism Dr Viliami Latu accompanied by a delegation from Tonga and Auckland City Councillor Arthur Anae.

Heilala Vanilla and Tupuanga Coffee were displayed alongside the artwork of Tongan artist Dagmar Dyke, who also sold a piece on the night.

New Zealand imports from Tonga equal approximately $2 million (year ending to December 2011) in root vegetables, scrap waste, fish, coconuts, whilst New Zealand exports totaled $45 million (year ending December 2011) in meat and wood products, petrol/oil. In the 2006 New Zealand Census, Tongan people made up the third largest Pacific Islands group with 51,487 people.