Tonga becoming a 'transit point' for meth in NZ, Shane Jones says

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RNZ rnz.co.nz

New Zealand aid towards Pacific governance is essential because failed states in the Pacific were becoming gateways for methamphetamine, the associate finance minister says.

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At a post-Budget breakfast in Wellington this morning, associate Finance Minister Shane Jones was asked to explain the government's Pacific reset strategy - where foreign aid was being boosted by roughly $700 million over the next four years.

Mr Jones said failed Pacific states were transit points for drugs, and New Zealand had to assist them in building and funding their institutions.

"Many of the problems that we are dealing with here, with P [methamphetamine] and drugs, where do you think that is coming from folks?" he asked.

"That is coming from closely failed states in the Pacific, that is the transit route where a lot of this drama that is costing good ordinary middle-class, upper-class, lower-class people inordinate fear and anguish," Mr Jones said.

He added that Tonga was a main culprit in the issue.

"Tonga has a frightfully high level of indebtedness. Tonga needs an enormous amount of assistance with its customs, it is a transit point. I can't say too much about what the police may or may not have shared with us when I was an ambassador," Mr Jones said.

"I have extraordinarily high fears about Pacific Island states being used as transit points for mischief and mayhem eventually making its way to New Zealand."

Massey University Pasifika Centre director Malakai Koloamatangi said the minister was exaggerating to refer to "failed states".

"We have states that are facing problems - some in terms of instability, some in terms of good governance, and development related issues - but there are no failed states," he said.

"To paint the picture that the Pacific is made up of nations that are failed and that drugs get in and out without any barrier is obviously mistaken."

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