Aotearoa New Zealand will partner with Tonga to deploy Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel for engineering and rebuilding projects in the Pacific nation, Defence Minister, Peeni Henare anounced today.
Exercise Tropic Twilight will take place in Tonga in 2023. The 2022 exercise has just been completed in Niue.
“Exercise Tropic Twilight is a regular training exercise, focused on humanitarian and disaster relief resilience with Pacific partners,” said Minister Henare.
“The tasks for the next deployment will be determined with Tonga, with the aim of providing practical assistance in an area where it is needed most. This work is a demonstration of New Zealand’s continued commitment to Tonga’s recovery and long-term resilience.”
Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta said humanitarian assistance following the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami had been delivered through MFAT funding and NZDF personnel in January.
“Exercise Tropic Twilight next year will do the same,” she said.
“The exercise in 2023 will assist the ongoing recovery and rebuild and contribute to a stable, prosperous and resilient Pacific, reflecting Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific Resilience approach.”
Minister Henare said the Exercise offered a strategic opportunity to partner with key Tongan agencies, including the National Emergency Management Office and His Majesty’s Armed Forces, to prepare and plan for responding to natural disasters.
“The volcanic eruption and tsunami caused significant damage. Within 48 hours the NZDF provided support that was critical to initial response planning for the delivery of aid for the people of Tonga. This included a RNZAF P3-Orion to provide aerial footage of the damage, followed later by deliveries by five C-130 flights and three navy vessels,” he said.
Exercise Tropic Twilight was last held in Tonga in 2016.