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Tongan high commission jobs to go

By Yvonne Tahana

Jonathan Austi. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Jonathan Austi. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Morale at New Zealand's High Commission in Nuku'alofa is at an all time low as 19 of 29 staff look set to lose their jobs under the Government's restructuring plan.

Sources told the Herald that while the team pulled together to host 140 dignitaries in town to pay their respects to Tonga's late king this week, on five days notice, many were angry at proposed changes which would devastate the team and have a significant impact on local Tongan families.

Dr Jonathan Austin, New Zealand's high commissioner, refused to talk about the situation, but the Herald understands gardeners' and receptionists' jobs will go, and a single mother who cooks and cleans for Mr Austin's family will lose not only her job but also her home as she lives at a cottage on the property where Dr Austin resides.

A source said many New Zealanders might not concern themselves that mainly Tongans were losing their jobs but equity campaigners might.

"These people earn on average $5000 annually. That's what the CEO [of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade] earns in a day and a half.

It sucks," the source said.

Services in the capital city for New Zealanders needing help would be reduced. The efficacy of New Zealand's $17 million to $18 million aid budget to Tonga would also be reduced because of the knock-on effect of those cuts, a source said.

- NZ Herald

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