11:37 am on 27 November 2003

An Auckland-based Tongan lawyer, Kahu Baron Afeaki says New Zealand is meddling in a sovereign nation’s affairs by holding a parliamentary inquiry into its relationship with Tonga.

Mr Afeaki says allegations of government corruption have never been proven and he says while no country is perfect Tonga is a happy place.

He says Tonga would never hold an inquiry into the affairs of another nation and New Zealand could damage their relationship by holding the select committee review.

Mr Afeaki says if New Zealand wanted to remove aid from Tonga it should just do so.

“The bottom line is Tonga runs its own affairs and I think this is a serious sovereignty issue. Since when did New Zealand start deciding to investigate the affairs of another country? Isn’t this what the local police in their own country do? Why isn’t New Zealand investigating affairs in America, Australia et cetera? Aid does not justify direct interference especially when the aid is very minimal.”

Kahu Baron Afeaki, Auckland-based lawyer.