Plea for family zone

AUCKLAND – The Tongan community in Auckland wants a family zone set up to help prevent problems when the Mate Ma’a Tonga play England in the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals.

They have asked the Auckland Council and RLWC 2017 to help set up the family zone.

For last week’s game between Tonga and Lebanon, a family zone with food stalls and cultural performances was organised.

The Tonga Advisory Council said that helped prevent the disorder and congestion problems that occurred after Tonga’s game against New Zealand two weeks ago.

Council chair Melino Maka said events needed to be provided to cater for fans in a safe, controlled environment.

But the deputy chair of the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board, Walter Togiamua, said the resources weren’t available to provide a family zone again this weekend.

Mr Togiamua encouraged fans to buy tickets to the game at Mt Smart instead.

Mr Maka said he had asked the local board and Auckland City Council to reconsider, and think about the safety of fans and the community.

The Tongan Famili-Zone Committee, which pushed for a repeat of last Saturday, argues there won’t be anywhere for fans to go if they can’t afford to attend the game.

Committee chairman Reverend Dr Ilomaisini Lea said they were disappointed and concerned for the safety of young people.

“In our proposal to the board we set out our plans to follow the same formula we used after last week’s game, which proved so effective in reducing violence and arrests.

“We’ve built a network across the community working to make sure fans can enjoy themselves so police can concentrate on the small minority of people with no interest in the game who are only out to cause trouble.”

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