New Zealand High Commission Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Tonga New Zealand Joint Development

The Governments of Tonga and New Zealand endorsed a Joint Commitment for Development today in Nuku'alofa, outlining shared strategies for reaching development goals in Tonga, including the Millennium Development Goals.

The Acting Prime Minister of Tonga Hon. Samiu Vaipulu and New Zealand Foreign Minister Hon. Murray McCully signed the agreement, which targets several priority sectors for long-term assistance to Tonga.

These include Energy; Private Sector Development; Tourism; Police; Education; Targeted Sector Support (Budget Support); and New Zealand Partnerships which steer New Zealand expertise and resources to support the needs of Tongans.

The bulk of New Zealand assistance will focus on the education sector, with a NZ$15 million investment to support basic education over the next five years, and NZ$4 million for technical and vocational training, both carried out jointly with Australia.

Scholarships to New Zealand institutions will grow from eight to 15.

“Investing in children's education is an investment in a prosperous and productive future for Tonga… New Zealand's support will focus on improving outcomes in the classroom, particularly the availability of learning materials, increasing school grants, and teacher training,” said Mr McCully.

At the same time, Tonga will carry out annual numeracy and literacy tests, improve the quality of teaching through in-service training, and work on a plan with donors and private church schools to improve resource sharing.

In the energy sector, New Zealand will invest NZ$2.5 million to construct a solar power plant in Tonga, as well as NZ$6 million over the next three years to upgrade the village and peri-urban power distribution network.

Tonga's role will focus on completing policy and legislative requirements to allow for independent power producers in Tonga, while also setting a focal point for the energy sector within a single government agency. “We are thankful for the help from the New Zealand Government, and this continues to hold our close relations as nations. We are currently in a transition period and New Zealand is still supporting us,” said Acting Prime Minister Hon.Vaipulu.

“This new government will be working closely with the private sector and the communities to further development.”

As part of the package, Tonga's Tourism Support Programme will receive NZ$4.7 million over the next three years, aside from NZ$2.8 million to upgrade the Eua Runway and air terminal. The Tonga Police Development Programme will also see a NZ$2 million boost, while another NZ$1 million will be invested over two years in the Tonga Business Enterprise Centre to promote the private sector.

“The Joint Commitment for Development ensures greater shared accountability for development efforts between our two countries and targets New Zealand's assistance to areas that will make the most difference to the lives of the people of Tonga,” said Mr McCully.

Priority sectors are determined in part by Tonga's national development plan and budget priorities, as well as New Zealand's aid policy, currently focused on sustainable economic development.

Under the agreement, New Zealand will work with other donors to pool resources or align projects into a broader sector programme. New Zealand will also increasingly work through local Tongan finance and procurement systems with proven records in transparency and robustness.

In support, Tonga will ensure that sound long-term investment plans in these sectors are developed, maintained and reflected in national planning and budgeting.

Planning, budgeting and reporting systems will be actively strengthened, while the Government will coordinate development aid through sectoral working groups.

Progress by both countries in meeting the commitments outlined in the document will be monitored through annual joint performance reviews, regular ministerial dialogues, and a results framework to be finalised in the early stages of the Joint Commitment.

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