New Zealand announces $8 million funding increase for Tonga’s climate change fund


The New Zealand Defense Force’s annual humanitarian mission to the Pacific heads to Tonga, seven months from the devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta was in the kingdom to make the announcement, along with millions of dollars to help tackle climate change.

It follows virtual talks between Tonga and China.

Crew aboard HMNZS Manawanui help map the seabed outside Nuku’ Alofa port, a critical search after January’s volcanic eruption that caused a tsunami to hit the capital and other islands .

“It’s not just our friends, it’s our family,” HMNZS Manawanui Commanding Officer John McQueen told 1News.

“This is our opportunity to work close to the volcanic eruption in January and ensure that in a post-Covid world we continue to do our part to help our other island nations.”

Mahuta announced on Friday that next year’s annual exercise Tropic Twilight – which focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief – will be held in Tonga.

The main mission of the NZDF is to rebuild the parts of the island nation destroyed by the tsunami.

“What we want to do is continue to hopefully reaffirm that we are a trusted partner, a first-choice partner when it comes to key issues,” Mahuta said.

Mahuta also announced the kingdom’s share of a $500 million Pacific pledge, including $8 million earmarked for Tonga’s climate change fund.

“It will be directed at Tonga’s own priorities,” she said.

However, Tonga’s immediate priority after the tsunami is to rebuild homes and lives “so that our people can return to some normality”, Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni said.

“But at the same time looking to support livelihoods, fishing boats and tractors etc.”

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