Rumours baffle Tonga's top cop

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 09:18 16/12/2013
Grant O'Fee
Fairfax NZ
NOT RESIGNING: Tonga's New Zealand police chief Grant O'Fee isn't quitting, despite rumours. "I've got no idea how the rumours got started."

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Tonga's New Zealand police chief Grant O'Fee is mystified by rumours that he has resigned.

While admitting that life in Tonga "has not been boring" he says there were waves of rumours that he had quit.

"I was inclined to ignore it all at the start," he said today, but then when the rumours said other senior officers had been fired, he felt he had to issue a brief statement.

O'Fee, who headed Rugby World Cup security in New Zealand before taking up the role of police commissioner in Tonga, is the second commissioner in a row to face strife.

His predecessor, Dunedin policeman Chris Kelley, was forced out after his contract was not renewed in a dispute over whether police should be promoted on the basis of how long they had served.

O'Fee said that the rumours of his departure had been "gaining currency" during the day and eventually he had to say something.

He said from Nuku'alofa today that he was not resigning but was coming back to New Zealand for a month of leave next week.

"But I've got no idea how the rumours got started, he said.

"Coconut wireless . . . is big up here, and wrong too."

O'Fee has found himself in the hot seat in Tonga over reforming of the kingdom's police force.

Last year New Zealand policeman Kali Fungavaka was killed while in police custody and five Tongan policeman are to stand trial for his manslaughter.

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