(Picture caption: Ahead of the fono, Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern speaks with Tonga’s Prime Minister Hon Hu’akavameiliku and Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu at the New Zealand High Commission, to express New Zealand’s solidarity and commitment to Tonga during this challenging time. Photo credit: MFAT.)
When the Hunga Tonga – Huna Ha’apai underwater volcano erupted and caused a tsunami to pummel the Kingdom of Tonga, the New Zealand Government responded immediately offering support and financial assistance.
After surveying the damage from the air and finally contacting officials in Tonga once communications were partially restored, navy ships and aircraft were organised to to deliver essential supplies and engineering equipment as soon as possible and also in a contactless way, to protect the COVID-19 free country from infection.
The response in Tonga is being led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the National Defence Force, while the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ role is to focus primarily on communications including translations of key messaging and community outreach in Aotearoa.
Part of this engagement included the Hunga Tonga – Huna Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami Zoom talanoa, staged on Saturday via Zoom.
Chief Advisor for Regional Partnerships at the Ministry John Tuamoheloa is leading MPP’s response to the disaster in Tonga and says the fono catered to the Tongan community in Aotearoa, and shared credible information following the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption.
“A main aim of the fono was to help allay any ongoing community worry or anxiety, particularly as connectivity issues continue to hamper communication with, and from, Tonga,” John says.
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio hosted the fono, and along with MFAT officials, provided the most up-to-date information on the situation in Tonga, consular advice and where New Zealand can and cannot provide support Tonga, and advice on donations.
Although the situation is still unfolding in Tonga, MPP and MFAT are committed to keeping the Tongan diaspora in Aotearoa updated and informed.
Visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website for key information on the New Zealand response, how to donate, and more.
Other reliable sources of information include: