Aotearoa New Zealand is giving an additional $2 million in humanitarian funding for Tonga as the country recovers from a volcanic eruption and tsunami last weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today.
This brings Aotearoa New Zealand’s contribution to $3 million.
“This support will enable more crucial supplies, such as drinking water, food supplies, as well as engineering equipment and tools to clear debris, to be sent to Tonga in the coming days and weeks,” said Nanaia Mahuta.
The funding is additional to the $1 million Aotearoa New Zealand has already allocated to the humanitarian response.
Peeni Henare also announced the HMNZS Canterbury would leave Devonport for Tonga overnight.
“The HMNZS Canterbury will have on board additional stores such as tarpaulins, water containers, milk powder, as well as engineering equipment to clear debris and two NH-90 helicopters,” said Minister Henare.
Deliveries will be contactless in accordance with Tonga’s COVID-19 protocols and those involved in the relief efforts undergo testing before departure, and while on deployment.
Nanaia Mahuta said $1.5 million of the addition $2 million would go towards deploying more relief supplies on upcoming C-130 relief flights, as well as water generation capability and clean-up equipment.
“This money will also fund relief activity undertaken by local authorities and humanitarian organisations, and other requests from the Tongan Government as required,” said Nanaia Mahuta.
The remaining $500,000 will go towards a New Zealand Disaster Response Partnership round for New Zealand NGOs working with local partners to support the Tonga’s response efforts.
Nanaia Mahuta also spoke to her Tongan counterpart Hon Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu today to discuss relief efforts and how the two countries can work together to support relief and recovery efforts. It followed a call yesterday between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Tongan Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni.
“We discussed the significant challenges Tonga has in looking after its people as it cleans up after this disaster. I have assured her that we stand by to offer more assistance when needed,” said Nanaia Mahuta.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules carrying relief supplies landed in Tonga yesterday afternoon and more flights are scheduled.
HMNZS Wellington also arrived in Tonga yesterday and hydrographers were immediately deployed to survey approaches to Nuku’alofa in preparation HMNZS Aotearoa, which arrived and offloaded humanitarian stores today. Navy divers will also be checking on the integrity of the wharf infrastructure.
Note to Editors: Further information and updates can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website: https://www.mfat.govt.nz/mi/countries-and-regions/australia-and-pacific/tonga/