The Prime Minister’s decision to be treated in Tonga rather than New Zealand saved thousands pa’anga of taxpayers’ money, a government spokesperson said.
He said the government would have spent more than $100,000 if it had hired a medical aircraft to fly the Prime Minister to New Zealand.
Hon. Pōhiva, 76, was admitted to Vaiola hospital’s intensive care unit last month, but he recovered and was discharged about a week later.
The Prime Minister told Kaniva News he was hospitalised because he had not taken care of himself properly, even though he had felt ill for some time.
The Prime Minister is in Auckland on leave and for a regular medical check-up.
Meetings with king
Hon. Pōhiva told Kaniva News this week Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Halaevalu Mata’aho Tuku’aho, the only daughter of the king, visited him while he was at Vaiola hospital.
He said he “deeply appreciated” the royal visit and he was “hugely grateful for the Princess.”
Hon. Pōhiva said he had two meetings with the king before he left for New Zealand.
Asked about the meetings he said they were “wonderful.”
“The king wanted us to move forward. He wanted us to work very closely. That was my interpretation of how His Majesty talked while we met,” Hon. Pōhiva said.
“I was really happy with the meetings.
“His Majesty urged me to look after my health, take a leave and come back to Tonga to do our work.”
He said he planned to return to Tonga this Friday, but because the queen was arriving in Auckland this week he planned to visit her before leaving for the kingdom.
The government spokesperson said Health authorities prepared to transfer the Prime Minister to a New Zealand hospital after he was admitted, but he wanted to stay in Tonga.
The spokesperson said the authorities acted according to the government policy which gave them the power to do their utmost to look after the leaders of the nation including the royals.
He said if the Prime Minister had agreed to transfer him to New Zealand the government would have paid more than TP$100,000.
Hon. Pōhiva, who faced criticisms of alleged nepotism in 2015, said the cost was cheap when he travelled to New Zealand on leave and visited his doctor there at the same time. He paid for his expenses, including his medical check-up while in New Zealand.
He rented a house at the ‘Atalanga residence in Epsom and motels in Auckland for his stays.
The Tongan consul at ‘Atalanga, Stafford ‘Aho, confirmed to Kaniva News this evening the Prime Minister paid the rent for all bookings the consulate has made for him including the house in ‘Atalanga while he was in New Zealand.
Kaniva News understands a former Prime Minister who was wheelchair-bound died after spending months in an Auckland hospital. While he was in New Zealand all his expenses including people who were looking after him were paid from taxpayers’ money.
A former Minister of Police was medically transferred from Tonga to New Zealand while he was seriously ill. He died in the aircraft before his body arrived in Auckland. All expenses were paid from the taxpayers’ coffer.
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