AUCKLAND, New Zealand (ONE News, Jan. 31) - A campaign to shame debtors is causing a stir in Auckland’s Pacific Island community.

Open a copy of the local Tongan newspaper and you can’t miss it, the page of shame: Name after name, photo after photo of those owing money to loan company Funaki Enterprises.

Among those it has exposed are some big names, including a member of the Tongan royal family.

Their home villages in Tonga and their church are also identified in the controversial campaign.

The City Mission is concerned that the families are being shamed as well as individual debtors.

"For me that’s a concern, particularly about children who bear the shame of their parents," said City Missioner Diane Robertson.

Tucked away in a South Auckland dairy, the Funaki family loans thousands of dollars each year. They require no security, but charge interest of up to 30 per cent.

Those who fail to pay up are now being exposed.

No one is immune. The brother of millionaire sporting star Jonah Lomu isi featured in the latest edition. His debt, his church, even his village back in Tonga is there in black and white.

"We're not trying to shame a whole big church or a whole village. No, it's just for them to advise this person that they borrowed money and make them pay," said Mataele Funaki.

Funaki says the company’s contract clearly states clients will end up in print if they don’t honor their debt.

Many of the people who come to the Funakis and default on their loans lead a transient lifestyle.

Some have moved on to places like Australia and Hawaii.

The Funakis say they have tried a debt collector with little success.

Placing the ads is a last resort, they say.

The Times of Tonga is reviewing whether to keep publishing the ads and is consulting lawyers.

January 31, 2003

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