Tonga will be provided with NZ$4.8 million by New Zealand to bolster its health services.
The announcement was made by New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta as she concluded her visit to Tonga, meeting the Minister of Health Dr Saia Piukala and frontline healthcare workers in Nuku’alofa.
“As a country in and of the Pacific, New Zealand has done all we can to assist our Pacific whānau prepare and navigate through various COVID-19 outbreaks,” said Ms Mahuta.
“While this has been challenging at times, particularly through our ongoing domestic response, we remain committed to our Pacific partners.
“To further strengthen resilience and develop Tonga’s health workforce, Aotearoa New Zealand is funding a $4.8 million partnership programme over the next four years.
“Under the new partnership, Massey University will help Tonga plan for service needs, train staff, and allocate healthcare workers to where they are most needed.”
Ms Mahuta said New Zealand was Tonga’s key partner in the health sector. She said New Zealand stood alongside the Tongan health workforce as it managed COVID-19 and recovered from January’s Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami.
In response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aotearoa New Zealand has provided COVID-19 vaccines, testing kits, testing facilities and genomic sequencing, and technical support to Tonga.
The Foreign Minister has concluded her official visit to Tonga, meeting with His Majesty King Tupou IV, Prime Minister of Tonga Siaosi Sovaleni, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, Minister of Trade and Economic Development Viliami Latu and Minister of Health Dr Saia Piukala.
During the visit, Ms Mahuta also announced developments in Exercise Tropic Twilight, hosted a resilience in diversity women’s event with community and non-governmental organisations, and launched Aotearoa New Zealand’s climate finance strategy.
After the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in July, it was agreed that New Zealand would be counted as part of Polynesia while Australia would be associated with Melanesia.
Traditionally New Zealand has been a key partner of Polynesian countries including four of those coming under the realm of New Zealand, which uses the New Zealand currency and its passport.