New Zealand poised to help Tonga with election process

Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee says he is keeping a close eye on developments in Tonga as the country spirals into political turmoil.

On Friday, Tonga's King George Tupou the sixth has dismissed the country's scandal-ridden Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva and dissolved parliament.

The move, made after a concerted effort by the country's Nobles to push Mr Pohiva out, has left the fledgling democracy in political turmoil.

Mr Brownlee says King Tupou the sixth has made a step that is unprecedented.

"We are assessing as to whether this is an appropriately constitutional move from the King of Tonga - and at first glance, it looks like it is," he said.

"It's probably most significant that an election has been set down for November 16, meaning that the democracy in Tonga is likely to endure."

Mr Brownlee says it's too early to say whether New Zealand will have any peace-keeping role in the lead up to the election.

However, he says they will provide assistance to the Pacific Island nation in other ways.

"We obviously want to assist the Tongan electoral commission with anything they might need to ensure they have as efficient and fair and free election as they can."

The decision to remove Mr Pohiva - the first commoner to be elected as Prime Minister - from his post came as a surprise to many.

But his leadership has been dogged by claims of nepotism, incompetence, and financial mismanagement, including appointing his son as his private secretary.

A long time pro-democracy campaigner, Mr Pohiva also faced stern criticism for cancelling the Pacific games, which Tonga was to host in 2019.