New High Commissioner For Nuku'Alofa

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

New Zealand's next High Commissioner to Tonga will be career diplomat Brian Smythe, Foreign Minister Don McKinnon announced today.

Mr McKinnon said the relationship with Tonga was one of New Zealand's most significant in the South Pacific region, and as High Commissioner Mr Smythe would have an important role to play in furthering that relationship at governmental level and through people-to-people links.

New Zealand is home to over 26,000 people of Tongan origin, making them the third largest Pacific Island group in the country, and remittances to Tonga total about $2 million per month. Numerous Tongan leaders have also been educated in New Zealand.

New Zealand's Official Development Assistance to Tonga is currently $5.6 million per annum and is a cornerstone of the relationship.

"Tonga has never been colonised, and is one of the most proud and traditional of Polynesian societies," Mr McKinnon said.

Mr Smythe, currently director of the Foreign Ministry's Trade and Economic Analysis Division, has previously served in Geneva, Brussels, Moscow and as High Commissioner in Vanuatu. He takes up his posting in January, replacing Ian Hill, who has returned to Wellington.