New Zealand High Commission Nuku'alofa, Tonga
New Zealand reaffirms strategic direction with Tonga
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Tonga’s Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano today agreed to reaffirm the strategic direction of the development partnership following talks late last week and early this week.
The importance of the economic and political ties between the two countries were reaffirmed in meetings, including Tonga’s initiative to put safety first in the development of its transport sector and measures to demonstrate commitments to support tourism.
The centrepiece of the agreement is a sector-wide review of transport safety, including land, marine and aviation safety, to be led by the World Bank and supported by New Zealand. Tonga will also take leadership to promote a regional approach to address the on-going challenges of transport sector safety in the region.
World Bank and New Zealand transport officials met in Auckland this week to scope the terms of the review. The New Zealand Government has pledged financial support to implement the recommendations of the review, expected to be completed later this year.
“The New Zealand Government accepts that the World Bank-led process will deliver a sound basis for implementing the tourism development package announced last year and we have agreed to progressively released funding, as appropriate, to support the review and the implementation of its recommendations,” Mr McCully says.
“The step taken today by Lord Tu’ivakano to lead a system-wide reform, in conjunction with the World Bank and supported by New Zealand, deserves the highest praise. It also deserves the strong support of the New Zealand Government.
“The tourism sector holds much promise for Tonga. I am pleased that talks over recent days have set the scene for important elements of our tourism support funding to be released and that we now have a pathway toward sustainable improvements in the transport system that is so vital to the future growth of the tourism industry.”
Lord Tu’ivakano conveyed the Government and the people of Tonga’s appreciation to the people and the Government of New Zealand for its continuing assistance to Tonga as its key development partner, with specific reference to Minister McCully’s immediate response to Ha’apai.
“After Cyclone Ian swept across Ha’apai in January and displaced thousands by demolishing over 70 per cent of homes and critical infrastructure, the Government of New Zealand was the first to immediately assist the Government’s response to Ha’apai,” Lord Tu’ivakano says.
“Minister McCully, who I was able to meet in Abu Dhabi in early January, followed through quickly by committing support in the electricity and agriculture sectors a week later by visiting Tonga.”
On closing Lord Tu’ivakano reaffirmed Tonga’s strong and close relations with New Zealand, pledging Tonga’s support of New Zealand in the international arena, especially in the upcoming New Zealand candidacy of membership of the United Nations Security Council.
To note: media are invited to attend a stand-up with Mr McCully and Lord Tu’ivakano at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, level 6, 139 Quay Street, Auckland at 3pm today.