The Prime Minister of Tonga, Siaosi Sovaleni, met with shipping company Matson in Auckland this week to thank them for their aid in the aftermath of the volcanic eruptions on January 15.
Matson’s vessel Liloa II was the very first ship into the Port of Nukualofa in the immediate aftermath of the Hunga Ha’apai eruption and ensuing tsunami and ashfall that devastated Tonga, landing critical food products and other imports from the U.S. West Coast.
Following the Liloa II call, Matson deployed its vessels Kamokuiki and Papa Mau within a fortnight of the eruption, to carry the initial shipments of containerised relief goods from New Zealand. The special deployment of these ships was part of a NZD$375,000 relief effort initiated by Matson
chairman and CEO Matt Cox in the immediate aftermath of the eruption.
Mr Sovaleni personally thanked Matson general manager Greg Chu; Sir Michael Jones, director of government and community relations; and other Matson staff for the 30 containers Matson provided to the ATRC and shipped free of charge to Nukualofa.
“We are extremely grateful to Matson for their generosity and support of our people and the wider Tongan community both here and particularly back home in Tonga,” he said.
“Whilst the large number of donated containers put pressure on our resources on island, particularly the work of customs, the support of our military personnel assisted hugely in the timely and efficient distribution of the family and community donated goods of food, water and essential goods gifted by New Zealand companies and organisations.”
Matson Navigation Company was founded in 1882 and serves as a vital lifeline to Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and other island economies in Micronesia and the South Pacific.
Matson’s South Pacific general manager Greg Chu commented “Matson is a Pacific company and many of our people are Pacific Islanders, so we know how natural disasters impact our islands and the challenges of recovery and rebuilding communities and villages. That is why we do our utmost in these times of need.”