Friday, March 11, 2011

Bid to stop Tongan king selling mansion

Tongan politicians have gone to court in a bid to stop plans by Tonga's King George Tupou V to sell a faded Auckland mansion.

Listed by real estate agency Bayleys, the 1.6 hectare property in Epsom, called 'Atalanga, is expected to fetch around $10 million.

But three politicians in Nuku'alofa have asked the Tongan Supreme Court to declare whether the sale is in direct contravention of the constitution of Tonga, a lawyer told Matangi Tonga newspaper.

King George's Auckland lawyer, Nicholas Fisher, told the newspaper the caveat on the property was "vexatious".

"Any actions to interfere with the king's undoubted right to sell the 'Atalanga property, in which it belongs to him in his personal capacity, both in New Zealand or in Tonga, will result in a claim for damages, which are likely to be substantial," Mr Fisher said.

'Atalanga was purchased in 1952 as the personal property of the king's grandmother Queen Salote Tupou III and her heirs and successors.

He said King George took the title in his own name and the Government of Tonga had no legal or equitable interest in the property, though opponents of the sale have claimed that the Tongan Government paid the annual Auckland City Council rates on the property.


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