Australian High Commission
Kingdom of Tonga

Media Release

Australian High Commissioner statement on increased connectivity between Tonga and Australia

04 May 2022 

After the challenges we have experienced to connectivity as a result of COVID-19, I am delighted the physical links between Australia and Tonga are building back.  We are looking forward to greater flight connectivity between Tonga and Australia beginning this June, and I thank the Government of Tonga for taking the initiative to increase the frequency of passenger flights between our countries. 

While our physical links were temporarily less frequent, the link of friendship has always been strong.   As members of the Pacific family, Australia and Tonga share a close relationship, built over more than fifty years of diplomatic relations. We are tightly bound together by our shared place in the Pacific, but geography is only one part of the story. We have built strong cultural, family, economic and sporting ties over many decades, and our partnership continues to reach new heights.

As members of the Pacific family, Australia will always stand ready to support Tonga in times of need – just as Tonga reached out to Australia during our 2020 bushfires. Following January’s eruption and tsunami, we saw an incredible outpouring of support from Australians. Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Latufuipeka Tuku’aho, the Kingdom’s High Commissioner in Australia, led the local response, arranging donations and resources for affected Tongan communities. The Tongan diaspora across Australia continues to deliver donations from Australian schools, rugby matches and churches to Tonga.

And we were proud to work so closely with the Tongan Government on the disaster response. Our decades-long partnership in humanitarian response, disaster resilience and defence cooperation swung into action. It is the reason we were able to so quickly deliver over 440 tonnes of emergency supplies, reconstruction materials and COVID-19 support to Tonga. It was wonderful to see a comprehensive response by the Pacific family with military personnel from Fiji and the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia joining the HMAS Adelaide, Supply and Canberra (three of Australia’s largest navy vessels!) in conducting clean-up operations, delivery of vaccines, and restoration of international telecommunications.

But we do not just work together in a crisis. Over many years Australia and Tonga have cooperated in many fields in support of Tonga’s continuing development – and so much of this is founded on the links between our people and communities. There are almost 4,000 Tongan workers in Australia filling gaps in Australia’s workforce and delivering economic benefits and skills home to Tonga. The reconstruction of Tonga’s Parliament House and Legislative Offices by Australia and New Zealand will focus on using local labour wherever possible, and the new kava pilot is allowing the commercial import of kava to Australia, offering important economic opportunities to Tonga and easier supply for Pacific communities in Australia.

With the Australia Awards restarting, we hope that up to 25 Tongan students will soon be able to commence their studies in Australia. We are also supporting the World Bank’s Safe and Resilient Schools Project in Tonga, which is improving school infrastructure and supporting an upgrade of curricula and assessments. And Australians are thrilled to watch elite Tongan athletes compete in our premier rugby league and rugby union competitions.   

Our shared values, as well as a common love of sport, food and Pacific arts, is the foundation of our nations’ partnership. It is deeper than politics or even friendship. It is family.  

 

Rachael Moore
Australian High Commissioner to Tonga

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Statement from the Australian High Commissioner - Australia and Tonga attend Our Ocean Conference 2022.

14 April 2022

Australia is proud to join our Pacific family at the ‘Our Ocean Conference 2022’ in Palau 13‑14 April. The conference is an opportunity to discuss the unique challenges associated with our oceanic environment, specifically the health of our oceans and the effects of climate change.  

The Conference will cut across numerous themes including: the ocean-climate nexus, sustainable fisheries, creating sustainable blue economies, advancing marine protected areas, achieving a safe and secure ocean, and tackling marine pollution.

We are delighted to see this event being held in the region for the first time, amplifying the important voices of the Pacific. The most pressing ocean issues—such as marine plastics, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the impact of climate change—need regional and global solutions and this Conference will be one of many steps contributing to these solutions.

The ocean gives us life. We rely on it for food, livelihoods, climate resilience and recreation. Ensuring the longevity of our planet’s life force requires decisive and collective action.

It is for this reason Australia proudly expanded its world-leading network of Indigenous Protected Areas to include the establishment of Sea Country. The Sea Country IPAs Program was announced on 23 April 2021 as part of an Australian Government $100 million investment in the management of ocean habitats and coastal environments and reducing emissions.

Australia remains committed to ocean conservation and sustainable use, climate action and our ongoing support to Pacific Island countries on these issues and looks forward to robust, and constructive discussions.

In the spirit of the theme for this year’s conference, “Our Ocean, Our People, Our Prosperity”, staff from the Australian High Commission collected a truck load of rubbish from Vuna Wharf this morning. Correctly disposing of rubbish is one of the best things we can do to help remove and reduce plastic pollution in the ocean and protect the precious marine life.

Let’s work continue to work together to preserve the pristine ocean and marine life in Tonga. Everyone can be part of the solution.

‘Ofa ‘atu

Rachael Moore
Australian High Commissioner

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Media RELEASE: Australia’s AUD 18m commitment to Tonga

12 April 2022

Australia’s High Commissioner to Tonga, Her Excellency Rachael Moore and Tonga’s Minister for Finance, the Honourable Tatafu Moeaki are pleased to announce a finalised agreement for Australia to provide Tonga up to AUD 18 million in budget support to assist Tonga’s recovery, reconstruction and resilience building priorities, and response to COVID-19.

 

“We acknowledge the core values of Tonga; Fefaka’apa’apa’aki, Feveitokai’aki, Lototoo and Tauhi vaha’a.  We have seen these values in action over the past few months as families and communities in Tonga and around the world have come together to respond to the challenges of the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami and COVID-19”. 

 

“As part of your Pacific family, Australia is proud to make this next contribution of up to AUD18 million in budget support to your Government to assist with the implementation of your priorities as you recover from the eruption and tsunami and respond to the challenges of COVID-19” said Her Excellency Rachael Moore.

 

“As Tonga strives to ensure continuity of services and increase the government’s capacity to support affected communities and the business community, Australia’s timely assistance and budget support of up to AUD18million will assist us implement the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai Volcanic Eruption and Tsunami Recovery plan and our COVID-19 response, including through assistance to the elderly and vulnerable, and to affected businesses” said the Minister for Finance, Hon. Tatafu Moeaki.

 

This funding was made available through the Australian Government’s development program and the Pacific COVID-19 Response Package. Announced in October 2020, the Response Package is a $304.7 million fund that has provided support to the Pacific and Timor-Leste to deliver temporary and targeted economic and fiscal assistance to address pandemic impacts, maintain essential health and other services, and protect the most vulnerable with a focus on women and girls.

 

Media enquiries may be directed to [email protected]

 

Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa
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JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Minister for Health and Aged Care

Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja

Minister for International Development and the Pacific
Senator for the ACT

1 December 2021

COMMERCIAL IMPORTATION OF KAVA

Pacific kava farmers and producers will now have direct access to the Australian market under Phase Two of the Morrison Government’s Kava Pilot, recognising the significant cultural and economic importance kava has for Pacific communities.

From 1 December, producers will be able to apply to import kava for commercial purposes under the two-year pilot. The quantity of kava that can be imported for personal use has already been doubled from two kilograms to four kilograms under Phase One of the pilot. 

Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, said he saw firsthand the cultural and economic significance of kava to Pacific communities, including diaspora in Australia, during a recent visit to Fiji.

“Many businesses in Fiji and across the Pacific have been hit hard by COVID 19, so the excitement for the kava pilot was palpable,” Minister Seselja said.

“Through improved access, the pilot will provide greater cultural connection for Pacific diaspora in Australia, as well as a welcome economic boost for the agricultural sector and rural communities across the Pacific.”

“Supporting Pacific farmers’ access new international markets, like Australia, is a key pillar of Australia’s Pacific Step-up that will see stronger agricultural development and investment, translating into more and better jobs across the region.”

Pacific island communities form an essential part of Australian society. They will now have increased access to kava for ceremonial and cultural purposes.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the kava pilot will be strictly monitored and will comply with Australia’s high-quality importation and food standards.

“The Morrison Government will undertake robust monitoring and evaluation of the pilot, working closely with state and territories, recognising their regulatory role in the domestic supply and use of kava,” Minister Hunt said.

“It is important Pacific communities here in Australia stay connected to their culture, including access to kava for ceremonial and cultural use, while the Government ensures strong social, health, and cultural outcomes are protected across Australia.”

The Australian Government has commissioned the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales and Ninti One Limited, an Indigenous owned organisation, to undertake monitoring and evaluation of the pilot. At the end of the two-year period a report will include a recommendation on the future of kava imports to Australia.

Australian businesses can take part in the commercial kava pilot by applying for an import permit from the Department of Health - Application forms | Office of Drug Control (odc.gov.au).

 

Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa

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MEDIA RELEASE

30 September 2021

New Australian High Commissioner to Tonga, Rachael Moore, presents her   credentials to His Majesty King Tupou VI

 

On 29 September, Australia’s High Commissioner designate Rachael Moore presented her credentials to His Majesty King Tupou VI, formalising her appointment as the Australian High Commissioner to Tonga.

Australia and Tonga have a shared vision of a secure, prosperous and resilient Tonga. In her capacity has High Commissioner to Tonga, Her Excellency Rachael Moore will prioritise areas of mutual bilateral importance including health, economic recovery from COVID-19, security cooperation, climate change and disaster resilience, gender equality and social inclusion.

"The close and enduring relationship between Australia and Tonga is underpinned by deep historical and cultural ties. This year is the 51st year of diplomatic relations between our nations. My family and I are delighted to be here, and I look forward to building on the partnership between our two countries during my tenure." - HE Rachael Moore, Australian High Commissioner to Tonga

Media enquiries may be directed to [email protected]

 

Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa

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MEDIA RELEASE

12 August 2021

Australia supports Tongan businesses through Tonga’s Ministry of Trade and     Economic Development.

Australia remains committed to working alongside Tonga, through the economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A further AUD 5 million has been directed to support Tonga’s COVID-19 Business Recovery Assistance Program, which aims to improve the well-being and living standards of Tongans in the formal and informal business sectors.

This funding is part of the Australian Government’s AUD 304.7 million Pacific COVID-19 Response Package, specifically targeting Tonga’s tourism, agriculture, fisheries, retail and wholesale, and manufacturing industries. The COVID-19 Business Recovery Assistance Program is being delivered by Tonga’s Ministry of Trade and Economic Development (MTED) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

The Honourable Minister for Trade and Economic Development, Mr Tatafu Moeaki, acknowledges Australia’s support, stating that “… the depth and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic is now more certain.” The Tongan Government in response has included extended assistance to support business recovery including those in the informal sector. Honourable Moeaki believes that a resilient private sector will help minimise the negative impacts of the global pandemic.

Australia’s Acting High Commissioner, Mr Nicholas Murphy, sees this support as a necessary financing that will see assistance go directly to Tongan business owners, both formal and informal.

Through ongoing support and assistance measures, Australia is working alongside Tonga as it recovers from the pandemic with a focus on building together a bigger, brighter and more stable future for the region. 

Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa

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MEDIA RELEASE

8 August 2021

Second shipment of Australian-made AstraZeneca arrives in Tonga

Additional Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccines arrive in Tonga today, 10 August, as part of Australia's regional commitment to provide vital support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia had committed to providing 45,000 Australian-made AstraZeneca vaccines to Tonga this year. Today’s consignment of 10,000 doses enables Tonga to offer comprehensive coverage for the outer islands of Ha’apai and the Niuas. It supports efforts of an international coalition in Tonga including New Zealand and Japan, that is ensuring comprehensive national vaccine coverage by the end of 2021. This shipment follows the 9,000 Australian-manufactured doses which arrived on 20 July for the people of Vava’u.
“The arrival of these Australian made vaccines in Tonga today is one of the key solutions to a return to normal life, and to stemming the social and economic impact of the pandemic. With upcoming potential help from the people of New Zealand and Japan, with whom Australia has enjoyed helpful cooperation and collaboration on vaccine distribution, I see great opportunities for Tonga to meet its target of substantial community immunity before the end of 2021. This can give us all hope of resuming a more normal life and putting an end to several years of separation, restrictions, and sacrifice,” said Australia’s Acting Head of Mission Nicholas Murphy.  
In addition to the supply of vaccine doses, Australia has committed through the regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative (VAHSI), to provide AUD 2.3 million for the purchase waste management equipment, including a safe and environmentally friendly ‘Ecosteryl’ unit which produces less toxic emissions than traditional incinerator units and limits waste by-products by up to 80%. This will be the first Ecosteryl unit in use in Tonga, and the second for the Pacific. Through VAHSI, Australia has also offered technical advice to Tonga from some of the world's leading immunisation experts via Australia's Therapeutic Goods Association and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance to support Tonga’s overall COVID-19 response and vaccine campaigns.
In 2020, Australia had also supported Tonga with pandemic preparedness including through the provision of GeneExpert and PCR testing equipment, PPE and the purchase of additional supplies through an additional AUD 1 million in COVID support through the Tonga Health Systems Support Program.
This assistance package is in addition to Australia's AUD 130 million contribution to the COVAX Facility's Advance Market Commitment, of which Tonga is an eligible country. Through COVAX, 48,000 vaccines have arrived in Tonga to since 31 March 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of a coordinated regional vaccination effort to protect the health and safety of Australia’s Pacific neighbours.
Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa

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MEDIA RELEASE

20 July 2021

9,000 Australian-made AstraZeneca vaccine doses arrived in Tonga.

The Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccines arrived from Australia on 20 July (today) as part of Australia's commitment to Tonga and the region to provide vital support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia is pleased to advise that these doses will be used to vaccinate vulnerable peoples in the island of Vava’u.

Australia's sharing of vaccines with the Pacific and Timor-Leste is part of our broader partnership response to the virus. "Australia is proud to stand by the people of Tonga and the region to fight this global crisis," said Australian acting Head of Mission Nicholas Murphy at a ceremony held to celebrate the arrival of the doses and their handover from Australia to Tonga.
"The arrival of the Australian-made vaccine in Tonga today is one of the key solutions to stem the social and economic impact of the pandemic. This is why Australia is so proud to be sharing its precious resources with Tonga. It is a scientifically sound thing to do, and it is the act of a good neighbour and friend," Mr Murphy ended.  
This week's delivery to Tonga, and others in the Pacific, brings the total number of vaccines shared from Australia across the Pacific and Timor-Leste to almost 750,000.
In addition, through the regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative (the Intitative), Australia has committed AUD 2.3 million to purchase waste management equipment, including an environmentally friendlier Ecosteryl unit which does not produce greenhouse gases and toxic emissions like the traditional incincerator units. This will be the first Ecosteryl unit in use in Tonga, and the second for the Pacific. Through the Initiative,  technical advice from some of the world's leading immunisation experts via Australia's Therapeutic Goods Association and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance is also available to support Tonga’s COVID-19 response and vaccine campaigns.   
Australia has also supported the provision of GeneExpert and PCR testing equipment, PPE and the purchase of additional supplies through an additional AUD 1 million in COVID support through our Health Systems Support program.   
This assistance comes on top of Australia's AUD130 million contribution to the COVAX Facility's Advance Market Commitment, of which Tonga is a an eligible country. Through COVAX 48,000 vaccines have arrived in Tonga to date.
Australia congratulates the Tongan Ministry of Health on its success in avoiding community transmissions of COVID-19. It is evident, that despite this, Tonga is being impacted by the pandemic, and the vaccine is a crucial part of our collective recovery.
Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa