NEW ZEALAND RESIDENCE BELONGS TO TONGAN KING

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Tonga government pays for property’s upkeep

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Tonga Broadcasting Commission, July 2, 2008) –The Hon. Prime Minister Dr. Feleti Sevele confirmed in Parliament yesterday that the 'Atalanga residence in, Epsom, NZ, is the property of His Majesty the King of Tonga.

According to the Hon. Prime Minister, the late Queen Salote Tupou III bought the residence, and he had met the former owner of the residence who had also written a letter confirming that the residence had not been bought by the government of Tonga.

The Hon. Prime Minister was responding to Number 1 Peoples' Representative of Tongatapu 'Akilisi Pohiva who said he had heard that there were plans to sell the 'Atalanga residence.

The representative said this was the first time he was made aware that 'Atalanga did not belong to the government. He said the reason why he had always thought the residence belonged to the government was because he noticed that in the annual budget there was always funds set aside for the maintenance and up-keep of the property.

Meanwhile, the Hon. Prime Minister clarified the issue adding that government had already disclosed that 'Atalanga belonged to the royal household. He said the reason why government funds were used for the upkeep of the property was because there were government-sponsored students who resided at the residence as per the wishes of the late Queen Salote.

Not only that, whenever His Majesty was in residence at 'Atalanga, it was the responsibility of government to provide for the property.

At the same time, 'Atalanga has also been used for official government assignments including the time of the passing of the late King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV in Auckland, NZ, where the government of Tonga did not have to spend additional funding on the hiring of an appropriate residence to receive mourners.

Tonga Broadcasting Commission: http://69.64.78.143

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