Australian High Commission
Kingdom of Tonga

Media Release


Celebrating Australia Day 2024

26 January 2024

Statement from Australia’s High Commissioner to Tonga, Her Excellency Rachael Moore.

On Australia Day, we celebrate our nation, its achievements and most of all its people. Today is an opportunity to reflect, respect and connect with all Australians who contribute to our great nation. We acknowledge Australia’s First Nations peoples, custodians of the oldest continuing culture on earth spanning more than 65,000 years. Australia is a successful, multicultural society bringing together people from across the globe with shared values of fairness, tolerance, and diversity. The more than 43,000 people in Australia who identify as having Tongan heritage make invaluable contributions to the fabric of our nation (not only on the sporting field!).  Similarly, there is a community of Australians who live and work here in the Kingdom of Tonga.  Thank you for the contribution you make to the ties that bind us as people and as nations.

Australia and Tonga

It has been another significant year for the friendship between Australia and Tonga. We continue to build deeper and stronger ties, building on our 53 years of diplomatic relations and over 200 years of interwoven history.

We express our gratitude to Her Royal Highness Princess Latufuipeka Tuku’aho, who worked with grace and dedication in her role as Tonga’s High Commissioner to Australia and is now undertaking her PhD at the Australian National University. We are humbled by the royal family’s ongoing commitment to the Tonga-Australia relationship, with Her Royal Highness following the precedent set by His Majesty King Tupou VI when he served as Tonga’s first High Commissioner to Australia from 2008 to 2012. We are grateful His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala chose to live and study in Australia with his family.  We hope Canberra will always feel like a home away from home for you and yours. 

And I thank Tonga’s acting High Commissioner to Australia, Curtis Tu’ihalangingie and Tonga’s Hon Consul General to Australia, Louise Waterhouse for their tireless service for the Kingdom and our bilateral relationship. The Kingdom of Tonga has hosted many high-level Australian visitors in the past twelve months. His Excellency, Governor-General David Hurley, and his spouse Linda Hurley, were privileged to meet with His Majesty King Tupou VI on their visit in June. Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, Assistant Health Minister Emma McBride MP and Australia’s Ambassador for Gender Equality, Stephanie Copus Campbell also visited in 2023. We were grateful for Tonga’s exceptional hosting of all our visitors, and for the opportunity to listen to your priorities and continue to work together on local, regional, and global issues that impact us all.

Regional unity amidst global challenges

As a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, Australia is working with our Pacific family on our shared security, prosperity, and wellbeing.  We look forward to Tonga taking up the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum this year.  We will be here to support you in this important role.

Guided by the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, Australia stands with the Pacific family to achieve our shared aspirations, and respond to our common challenges, including the existential threat of climate change.  We appreciate Tonga’s regional and global leadership on climate change action. We were proud to announce a contribution of AUD 100 million to the Pacific led Pacific Resilience Facility at COP28 late last year. We respect Tonga’s sovereignty.  Through cooperation and true partnership, we achieve our best as nations, as a region and for our world.

Security partnerships

A key aspect of our partnership is cooperation in the security sectors. Over the last year our Defence Partnership has gone from strength to strength. The commissioning of Northern Command in Vava’u by Their Majesties was a memorable demonstration of the value of the Australian Defence Force and His Majesty’s Armed Forces work together.  Northern Command will facilitate HMAF’s operations in Vava’u and surrounds, particularly to combat transnational crime and to boost disaster reparedness and response. Our defence forces continue to collaborate closely on disaster preparedness and response. And our joint training missions have continued to strengthen our interoperability.

The Australian Federal Police have worked with Tonga Police to respond to transnational organised crime, develop policing skills and build infrastructure, and to respond to gender-based violence. We’re also proud to work with Tonga on our shared challenge of border security within the Pacific region. In 2023, we welcomed the establishment of a permanent presence by the Australian Border Force to work with and support the Tongan Border Security Agencies.

Assistance and recovery

We recognise that Tonga’s development has encountered recent setbacks outside of your control. Cyclones Gita and Harold, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption and tsunami and the COVID-19 pandemic have had significant impacts, at a time when your national debt repayments have spiked.  We are committed to helping you in your recovery. In the past three years our development partnership has more than doubled from AUD32 million in the 2020 FY to more than AUD 82 million last year. Importantly, we have changed the way we work with you.  In FY2019, only 7 per cent of our development went directly through your financial systems. Last year, this number was 60 per cent.

In addition, we have more than AUD100 million of nation-building infrastructure support in the pipeline – including a new parliament house and our contribution to the upgrade of the Nuku’alofa Port. We understand aviation connectivity is critical for economic growth, service delivery and connecting family and friends and we are proud to support Lulutai Airlines and Tonga’s aviation sector.  We will also continue to support Tonga’s priorities in health, particularly in reducing non-communicable diseases. This year our health support also included the refurbishment of the obstetrics ward at Vaiola Hospital and funding a new mammogram machine to tackle Tonga’s most prevalent cancer.

We are also proud to have partnerships with civil society including the Women and Children’s Crisis Centre and LATA to support the essential advocacy and services they provide. And we value our peer partnership between the Australia and Tongan Electoral Commissions. In 2023 we deepened our engagement with Tonga’s media sector, understanding the critical role the media plays in sharing information with the public.  We have also partnered with Tupou Tertiary Institute to support their high-quality research. In 2024 we will continue to work in partnership with the Government and people of Tonga to support your priorities.

People-to-people links

Sport plays an important role in the identity of both Australia and Tonga, just one of the many ties that bind us, and 2023 was a particularly big year for sport. We were thrilled to co-host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and have Foreign Minister ‘Utoikamanu join our Foreign Minister in Brisbane to watch our Matildas play. Australia was pleased to support the Pacific Games in Honiara and to fund Tonga’s table tennis para-athletes who brought home three medals. We cheered for the Tala netball team when they won gold in Honiara and made their World Cup debut in South Africa. We’re proud to partner with local sporting organisations including NRL in Tonga, Tonga Table Tennis Federation, Tonga Netball, AFL in Tonga, and Tonga Football.

Labour mobility continues to be at the heart of economic ties between Australia and Tonga, with more than 5000 Tongans currently living and working in Australia. In November, the first cohort of trained Aged Care workers departed Tonga for Australia. We value the contributions that Tongan workers make to Australian businesses, and the strong connections the program builds between our people. We are so pleased to see new Australian volunteers arrive in country this week, and we look forward to their contribution here and the people to people links this program brings. And this year we are proud to support 27 outstanding Tongan scholars to travel to Australia to study through the Australia Award programs.


On Australia Day, we reflect on our national identity as Australians, and our roles as members of the Pacific family. As we look to the year ahead, I am encouraged by the strength of our partnership with the Kingdom of Tonga. We know that only together can we build a safe and prosperous region we can all be proud of.  Our shared values as part of the Pacific family will hold us in good stead as we respond to the challenges we collectively face today, and into the future. Let us look forward to the year ahead with hope and optimism, strong in the knowledge of our enduring friendship.

Media enquiries

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


Australian Government and Ministry of Internal Affairs strengthen understanding of disability-inclusive social protection

16 November 2023

More than 45 National Disability Stakeholders including government officials, faith-based institutions and services providers participated in disability-inclusive social protection training on Wednesday 15 November 2023.

The training was delivered by the Australian Government’s Partnerships for Social Protection (P4SP) program in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs Social Protection, Disability and Vulnerable Division.

This training represents the second phase of Australia’s technical assistance to Tonga on social protection. The training focused on how social protection programs can better meet the needs of persons with disabilities in Tonga.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer – MIA, Luisa Manuofetoa, confirmed that the training was timely because MIA is currently reviewing their social protection programs to ensure they have greater and positive impacts on the lives of persons with disabilities as well as the Government of Tonga, socially and economically.    

“Communities across Tonga are already supported by two well-established social protection programs — the Disability Social Welfare Scheme and the Social Welfare Scheme for elderlies.  The Government of Tonga is pleased to partner with the Australian government to deliver this training on disability-inclusive social protection.”

Deputy Australian High Commissioner, Erin Gleeson said that Australian Government remains committed to supporting Tonga to strengthen social protection systems.

 “In recent years, we have been seeing governments across the Pacific investing in social protection schemes that are reaching more people in need of assistance.”

“Social protection is a vital component when designing ways to support an entire community, and we look forward to further strengthening this important partnership in years to come.”

P4SP’s Deputy Team Leader, Rachel Payne noted that around the world, people with disabilities are too often excluded from social protection programs.

“This course has been designed to highlight ways in which social protection can respond to the needs of people with disabilities, and the role of social protection as part of broader disability support and services in Tonga.”

While in Nuku’alofa, P4SP is also engaging with MIA and the National Retirement Benefit Fund to consider options for further strengthening the disability and elderly benefit schemes.


 Australian support for the 2023 Pacific Games

12 November 2023

The Hon Pat Conroy, Minister for International Development and the Pacific for Australia Joint media release with:

The Hon Richard Marles MP, Deputy Prime Minister

Senator the Hon Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs

The Hon Michelle Rowland MP, Acting Attorney-General

The Hon Anika Wells MP, Minister for Sport


Australia is supporting Solomon Islands to host a safe and successful 2023 Pacific Games through our $17 million Pacific Games Partnership and additional personnel deployments, at the request of the Solomon Islands Government. 

The 2023 Pacific Games is one of the region's biggest events, bringing together about 5,000 athletes, officials and support staff from 24 Pacific teams, in Honiara from 19 November to 2 December 2023.

Australia will deploy around 100 additional Australian Federal Police (AFP) personnel to join more than 50 colleagues already in the Solomon Islands as part of the Solomons International Assistance Force (SIAF).

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will supplement this deployment to support the SIAF, with 350 personnel who will assist in security, logistics and other support roles.

The AFP and ADF personnel will work under the leadership of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) alongside partners from Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Zealand, to support a safe and secure event.

Under Australia's Pacific Games Partnership, almost $17 million in direct support will leave a lasting legacy in Solomon Islands, including upgrades to seven schools and deeper ties with Australian sporting institutions.

Australia has a long-term commitment to sports development in the Pacific and we are pleased to be assisting Pacific athletes and sporting institutions from across the region.

Australia will be represented by a 75-strong team, that will compete in events including athletics, archery, boxing and weightlifting. Some competitions are qualifying events for the Paris Olympics for some sports.

Quotes attributable to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP:

"Australia and Solomon Islands have a deep and enduring history, and we're proud to continue working together under our Bilateral Security Treaty, and with Pacific partners, to support the hosting of a safe and secure Pacific Games.

"The additional AFP and ADF deployment builds our longstanding security partnerships across the Pacific."

Quotes attributable to Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong:

"The Pacific Games demonstrates the shared love of sport across the Pacific.

"We hope that the Games will be an inspiration for people of all ages, gender and those with disability, to enjoy and participate in sports across the Pacific."

Quotes attributable to Acting Attorney-General, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:

"Building on the AFP's long-standing and well-established partnership with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, the AFP has been working closely with the RSIPF to build capability ahead of the Pacific Games to deliver a safe and successful event.

"We are proud to have the AFP supporting this significant event, standing side-by-side with not only the RSIPF, but police counterparts from other Pacific countries including Papua New Guinea."

Quotes attributable to Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Pat Conroy MP:

"The Games' theme of 'Challenge, Celebrate, Unite' will bring together athletes and communities, as we celebrate the achievements of the Pacific's sporting talent.

"I thank and congratulate Solomon Islands for hosting this important event which brings us together both on and off the field."

Quotes attributable to Minister for Sport, the Hon Anika Wells MP:

"The Pacific Games will be a brilliant exhibition of athleticism, inclusion and competition and provide another example of how our journey to the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games is about more than just Australia.

"We wish all athletes and the organisers a successful Pacific Games."



 Visiting Australian and United Kingdom Representatives Reinforce Commitment to Gender Equality

 18 October 2023

Last week the Australian and British High Commissions jointly hosted Australia’s Ambassador for Gender Equality, Stephanie Copus-Campbell AM, and the UK’s Special Envoy for Gender Equality, Alicia Herbert OBE.  The representatives’ high-level visit was an opportunity to reinforce both countries’ commitment to gender equality efforts in Tonga. For Australia’s Ambassador, the visit demonstrated Australia’s support for girls’ and women’s leadership in all levels and in all spheres, with a particular focus on youth and climate action.

During the visit, Australia launched key partnership grants with long-standing civil society organisations in Tonga. Ma’a Fafine mo e Famili (MFF) secured core funding from Australia to support their services for Tonga’s elderly community. The support was warmly welcomed by the organisation’s Director, Betty Blake and Chair of the Board, Lopeti Senituli. The Women and Children’s Crisis Centre (WCCC) also launched the next phase of partnership with Australia during the visit. The Centre is leading the way in providing counselling and support services for survivors of violence. Australia is proud to support and fund the delivery of core services and to work with communities to end gender-based violence.

The visit coincided with International Day of the Girl presenting an opportunity for both Australia and the UK to reaffirm the shared commitment to working with the Government of Tonga on achieving gender equality and the human rights of all women and girls.

“I am pleased to return to Tonga, my fifth visit and my first in my role as Ambassador for Gender Equality. Gender-based violence is a global issue. It is present in every country, and a key priority for Australia both at home and working with our partners in the region” said Ambassador Copus Campbell.

“It was an honour to meet women in agribusiness and agricultural development, health workers, business leaders and young women and girls in Tonga. Championing the rights of women and girls is at the heart of the United Kingdom’s Women and Girls Strategy, and in particular ending gender-based violence.” said Special Envoy Herbert.

In the context of global crises, conflicts, and climate change, both countries stressed the importance of protecting, promoting and fulfilling human rights through partnership and collaboration.

During their visit, the Ambassador and Special Envoy were welcomed by the Honourable Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Tourism and the Honourable Lord Vaea, Minister for Internal Affairs and had the honour of meeting with key partners across Government, civil society and the private sector.  


Joint Media Release

New Air Freight Solution for Tongan Agricultural Exports to New Zealand

12 September 2023

Nishi Trading, a family-owned Tongan enterprise, is partnering with the Australian and New Zealand Government-supported Market Development Facility (MDF) in collaboration with Air New Zealand to trial air freight shipments of agricultural exports from Tonga to New Zealand.

Traditionally, the export industry in the Pacific region heavily relied on sea freight, accounting for approximately 80 per cent of shipments, while air freight constituted only 20 per cent. This preference for sea freight was primarily driven by its lower cost compared to air transportation. However, due to COVID-19, sea freight prices reached record highs, gradually decreasing but remaining higher than pre-pandemic levels.

With two decades of operation in Tonga, Nishi Trading sources agricultural products from a cluster of growers and packs them for overseas markets. The disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the volcanic eruption in early 2022 severely impacted export quantities, further exacerbated by shipping delays resulting in spoilage and loss of produce upon arrival.

It is becoming increasingly challenging to ship fresh produce to New Zealand via sea freight, as delays have led to issues with decay and hygiene. This is why air freight has emerged as a viable option for us, as it only takes three hours,” said Minoru Nishi, Managing Director for Nishi Trading.

MDF will also provide support to Nishi Trading in trialling a new cardboard packaging designed specifically to maximise space within the air freight containers used by Air New Zealand for fresh produce shipments.

“With the new cardboard packaging, it will be more cost-effective, easier for storage, and reduce the risk of spoilage,” said Minoru Nishi.

“I believe that after a successful trial, we’re going to see a huge impact in terms of the volume of exported produce. This opens doors for many other farmers to export taro, watermelons, cassava, butternut squash, and other frozen products, ultimately leading to increased income for farmers,” he added.

Recognising the growing demand for fresh, high-quality agricultural products in the region, Air New Zealand is keen to collaborate with Pacific exporters by expanding their air freight services, providing them with better access to overseas markets.

By offering our air freight services to exporters, we aim to provide a faster, more efficient and reliable option to the Pacific region, opening up new opportunities for farmers and growers to access global markets in a timely manner,” said Ms Zeena Sahib, Cargo Sales Manager (Pacific), Air New Zealand.

Mr Nishi also emphasised the importance of working closer with airlines such as Air New Zealand to develop mutually beneficial commercial solutions and encouraged other Pacific farmers and exporters to explore air freight as a viable option to foster the growth of their international businesses.



If you would like further information or interviews, please contact:

Mr Minoru Nishi, Managing Director, Nishi Trading Company Limited

Email: [email protected]

Ms Zeena Sahib, Cargo Sales Manager (Pacific), Air New Zealand

Email: [email protected]

Mr Shanesh Prasad, Communications Officer, Market Development Facility

Email: [email protected]  

Phone: +679 777 2092


Building deeper understanding of social protection in Tonga through training

23 May 2023

In partnership with the Government of Australia and delivered by the Partnership for Social Protection initiative, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Tonga welcomes the opportunity for dialogue and learning on social protection.  

The Australian High Commission in Nuku’alofa is hosting a joint 2-day training with the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the benefits of investing in strong and inclusive social protection systems. The training was launched this morning at the Tanoa International Dateline Hotel by the Australian High Commissioner, H.E Rachael Moore.

“The Australian Government is committed to supporting neighbouring governments to strengthen social protection systems. We are proud to be working in partnership with the Government of Tonga, in what we hope is a first step in strengthening and building on the important social protection programs that are already in place.”

The training, for 80 key government and civil society representatives, is being conducted by the Partnerships for Social Protection Program (P4SP), an Australian government initiative. The training will equip participants with a broad understanding of what social protection is and how — when designed and implemented well — it improves lives and reduces inequality.

P4SP supports governments in Pacific Island Countries and Timor-Leste to strengthen national social protection systems.  The program brings together expert advisors who, drawing on evidence, lessons and experiences from this region and the world more broadly, work with governments to identify and implement tailored and appropriate social protection solutions.

“We are thrilled to be able to meet the request for this training from the Government of Tonga,” said Juliet Attenborough, Senior Social Protection Specialist at P4SP.

This training will examine how other countries in the region have implemented Social Protection systems and look at which approaches might also work for the people of Tonga.”

The Tongan Government has already taken important steps to building Tonga’s social protection system, including the implementation of the Elderly Social Welfare Scheme, the National Retirement Benefits Fund, the Disability Welfare Scheme, and the World Bank supported Skills and Employment for Tongans (SET) project.

Following the successful launch of Tonga’s new National Social Protection Policy last week, the Honourable Minister of Internal Affairs Lord Vaea said “this training is an opportunity for stakeholders to better understand how social protection can improve the lives of all of Tonga’s citizens.”



Notes for editors:

Often implemented by national governments, Social Protection systems seek to address risk, vulnerability, inequality, and poverty through a system of transfers to people in cash, or 'in kind' for example in the form of food assistance. Programs aim to reach people during vulnerable times in their lives, such as during early childhood or old age, provide support for people with disabilities or who have lost work, or focus on poor families. They can also reach people who need help during times of economic crisis and in the wake of disasters.

Social protection systems enable growth and contribute to equality and stability. Social protection investments build human capital and increase labour participation, while helping individuals, families and communities manage the impacts of life shocks and minimise loss to productivity. In these ways, social protection programs can drive demand and economic activity, foster social cohesion, reduce inequality, and promote economic growth. Strong social protection systems are also shock-responsive and can support faster and better humanitarian responses to disasters.

Partnerships for Social Protection P4SP is a four-year Australian Government program that supports governments in Pacific Island Countries to strengthen their national social protection systems, programs, and policies.

P4SP works with partner governments to identify their Social Protection reform priorities; provide support through a network of over 70 Social Protection short-term specialists, and long-term advisors embedded within line ministries.

Through P4SP, Australia partners with governments in Pacific Island Countries and Timor-Leste to strengthen national social protection systems. Through these systems, P4SP works to support community and economic wellbeing, particularly following COVID-19, and to help build resilience to future shocks.

The Australian Government holds a longstanding commitment to reducing poverty and enhancing stability and prosperity in the region and is already supporting national social protection systems in several countries. P4SP supports and complements other Australian investments in social protection in the region.


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


Joint Media Release

Australia and Tonga Enter Next Phase of 20 Year Partnership in Health

15 May 2023

Today’s signing of the Tonga Health Systems Support Program Phase 3 (THSSP3) marks Australia’s continuing partnership with the Government of Tonga and the Tonga Health Promotion Foundation in the health sector.

Since 2009, Australia has invested approximately AUD30 million in Tonga’s health sector. Tongans continue to be at risk of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke, with NCDs accounting for the top four causes of all deaths in Tonga.

Delivered through to 2025, Phase Three sees an additional AUD10 million committed to further improve health outcomes for the people of Tonga by focusing on equitable access to quality healthcare services across the Kingdom and the implementation of the National NCD Strategy by Tonga Health Promotion Foundation.

Through Ministry of Health, THSSP3 will focus on Community Health Care Centres including in the outer islands. Phase 3 will continue to support Ministry of Health outer island outreach missions, with a plan to decentralise healthcare services by developing Mu’a Health Centre to provide services to the eastern populations of Tongatapu. Professional development and training of doctors and nurses, along with procuring essential medical equipment and pharmaceuticals continue to be activities funded under the program.

THSSP3 will also continue to support the activities and grants of Tonga Health Promotion Foundation, which are essential to improving the health and wellbeing of Tongan communities. Australia has been proud to see Tonga Health Promotion Foundation establish offices in all outer island groups, and programs, such as the Mai e Nima in schools, Zumba and community and school vegetable gardens be embraced by communities.

THSSP has been a longstanding health partnership between Tonga and Australia, with many achievements over the years. Phases 1 and 2 established the Rehabilitation, Prosthetics and Orthoses clinic at Vaiola Hospital, along with the renovations of the Mental Health Ward, and adoption of the Mai e Nima program into all primary schools.

“Australia is proud to work in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Tonga Health Promotion Foundation to address the impacts of NCDs and other health threats. We will continue to work with Tonga to offer our support where it is most needed.” said Australian High Commissioner to Tonga, HE Rachael Moore.

Today, High Commissioner Moore signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Australia with Hon. Saia Piukala, Minister of Health, Hon. Tiofilusi Tiueti, Minister of Finance and Mrs Ófeina Filimoehala, CEO for Tonga Health Promotion Foundation.

“We are grateful to Australia for this continued support to improve health outcomes in Tonga. There is much work to be done and this ensures that we secure the resources we need for our health workers to be better equipped in serving the Tongan people,” said Minister of Health, Hon. Saia Piukala.

Australia and Tonga are committed to continuing to work together to strengthen Tonga’s health sector and improve health outcomes for all in the Kingdom.


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


Supporting a Peaceful, Prosperous and Resilient Pacific

10 May 2023

The Australian Government is delivering around $1.9 billion over five years to the Pacific in response to the priorities Prime Minister Albanese and Foreign Minister Wong have heard on their visits to the Pacific, including Minister Wong’s visit to Tonga in June 2022.

Building on our longstanding contributions to regional stability, Australia is deepening connections between our people and enhancing cooperation across labour mobility, maritime security, policing, responding to and preparing for humanitarian disasters, media and sport.

Australia will also continue to work with the Government and people of Tonga to deliver investments in economic recovery, health, education, climate resilience and infrastructure.

“Australia values our bilateral relationship and the connections between our people.  We will continue to work with Tonga on our shared prosperity and resilience to future challenges.” said High Commissioner Moore.

Australia is further expanding and improving the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme to maximise its economic contributions to Pacific economies. This includes:

  • expanding the scheme beyond the current 35,000 workers, in line with Pacific aspirations and the needs of Australian businesses;
  • strengthening conditions and better supporting workers;
  • providing access to Medicare for an initial 200 families in the government’s family accompaniment pilot;
  • embedding skills development through training; and
  • supporting workers to access superannuation savings when they return home.

We are proud to be increasing access to Australian media content and boosting media connections in the region, improving visa service delivery, and continuing our sport engagement.

We are also boosting our contribution to meeting Pacific security priorities to support the Pacific family first approach to security agreed by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in July 2022, and the peace and security commitments under the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

Australia will bolster its investment in Pacific regional architecture, including the Pacific Islands Forum, to further support the Pacific family.

Australia is committed to continuing to work with Tonga towards our shared vision for a peaceful, prosperous and resilient Pacific.

More information is available here:

Media enquiries


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


His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala and Delegation Undertake First Canberra Fellowship Program Visit Since 2019

25 February 2023

Australia was delighted to host His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala in Australia this week, as part of the first Canberra Fellowships Program since 2019. His Royal Highness was joined by Lord Fakafanua, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Mr Mahe Tupouniua, International Adviser to the Prime Minister, Mr Maama Misi, National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, and Ms Elsie Fukofuka, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Canberra Fellowships Program brings pre-eminent and emerging leaders from the Indo-Pacific region to Australia for a personalised program of meetings and events with government, civil society, academic and diaspora communities.

As part of the week-long visit, His Royal Highness and the delegation were welcomed in Sydney by Australia’s Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley. This presented His Royal Highness and the Governor-General with a welcome opportunity to reunite, and built on their meeting last year when the Governor-General farewelled His Royal Highness ahead of his return to Tonga after many years studying in Canberra.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala and Governor-General Hurley reflected on the importance of our countries’ longstanding security partnership, including their connection through the South Pacific Defence Ministers Meeting (SPDMM).

The Governor-General, as then-Chief of the Australian Defence Force, was instrumental in establishing SPDMM and was delighted Tonga hosted the first meeting of this grouping in 2013. Tonga again successfully hosted the meeting in 2022, in which His Royal Highness was closely involved as Director of Military Affairs.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala and the Governor-General were joined in Sydney by Ms Louise Waterhouse, Honorary Consul General for Tonga. Ms Waterhouse and her family have supported the strong partnership between Australia and Tonga for two generations.

In Canberra, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala also attended the National Press Club where the Honourable Anthony Albanese MP, Prime Minister of Australia, made his annual address.

The delegation held a range of meetings with senior officials from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Defence and a range of other agencies, as well as the Australian National University, to exchange views and make progress on addressing Australia and Tonga’s shared priorities and regional security challenges, including climate change, cybersecurity, health and regional cooperation.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala and delegation were particularly pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Rear Admiral Christopher Smith AM CSM RAN, Commander Australian Fleet, and Australian Defence Force members with Tongan heritage, and members who have previously served in the kingdom.

The delegation toured HMAS Adelaide, which deployed to Tonga in 2022 to assist with disaster relief following the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami. The delegation took the opportunity to warmly thank Commanding Officer Captain Troy Duggan RAN and Australia for their support at this challenging time.

The delegation also toured HMAS Arunta and reunited with Commanding Officer Captain Jason McBain RAN, a former Australian Defence Adviser to Tonga and former classmate of His Royal Highness, as well as connecting with serving members of Tongan heritage – Seaman Suliana Kami and Seaman Jasmine Fine-Ulavalu.

Her Excellency Australian High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Tonga Rachael Moore noted the strength of the bond already shared by Australia and Tonga, and the opportunity the Fellowships Program has presented to further deepen this partnership:

“I see such friendship between Australians and Tongans every day in Nuku’alofa, so it’s wonderful to see this reflected at the highest levels of our governments”.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala took the opportunity to meet with Tongan Church leaders and diaspora in Canberra and Sydney reaffirming the strong connections between diaspora and the kingdom.

The delegation enjoyed a fun night watching the first match of the Super Rugby season in Sydney and cheering on the Brumbies to their win.

We look forward to seeing them back in Australia soon.


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


Visit to Tonga by Australia’s Head of the Office of The Pacific

3 February 2023

The Government of Tonga was pleased to welcome Australia’s Head of the Office of the Pacific, Mr Ewen McDonald.

During his visit, Mr McDonald had the honour to meet with key partners including His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala, the Honourable Hu’akavameiliku, Prime Minister of Tonga, the Honourable Samiu Vaipulu, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice, the Honourable Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Tourism, the Honourable Tiofilusi Tiueti, Minister for Finance, and Lord Speaker, Lord Fakafanua.

Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku and Mr McDonald celebrated Australia and Tonga’s enduring partnership and reaffirmed our cooperation in economic recovery, security, infrastructure, regional affairs and people-to-people links.

Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku and Mr McDonald discussed the critical role the aviation sector plays in Tonga’s economic recovery, and ensuring friends and family remain connected. Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku and Mr McDonald welcomed Australia’s support for Fiji Airways to fly domestic routes in Tonga until June to assure immediate and ongoing domestic connectivity, and long-term work with Lulutai Airlines to support Tonga’s aviation sector.

Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku and Mr McDonald discussed our longstanding policing partnership between the Australian Federal Police and Tonga Police including Australian support for Tonga Police’s capabilities, infrastructure, and critical maritime capabilities. Australia and Tonga are committed to working together to ensure the Kingdom is well equipped to meet security challenges including transnational crime and drug trafficking.

Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku and Mr McDonald discussed Australia and Tonga’s shared priorities for the region as the Pacific family faces an evolving security environment, including climate change. Mr McDonald congratulated Tonga on its upcoming chairmanship of the Pacific Islands Forum and new role as host of the Pacific Community’s first Polynesian Sub-Regional Office Australia has offered to support Tonga as it takes on these leading roles.

Discussions emphasised the importance of supporting the Pacific’s economic recovery and climate resilience with high quality infrastructure, “Greening the Blue Pacific”. Australia and Tonga agreed the new Partners in the Blue Pacific initiative offers a welcome opportunity to bring in greater resources to support Pacific priorities in line with the Pacific Islands Forum’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. Australia recommitted to working with Tonga and New Zealand, along with other partners, to bolster critical infrastructure including telecommunications redundancy.

Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku and Mr McDonald agreed on the importance of people-to-people links between our countries, including through the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme and Australia Awards.

Australia and Tonga will continue working closely together in pursuit of our shared goal for a secure, prosperous and resilient Pacific.


Hon. Hu’akavameiliku                                              Mr Ewen McDonald
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga                    Head of the Office of the Pacific


Australia Supports Domestic Connectivity with Lulutai

3 February 2023

The Australian Government today announced immediate support to the Government of Tonga in response to recent challenges to Lulutai’s aircraft and disruptions to air travel.

Australia will provide financial assurances for Lulutai to partner with Fiji Airways to operate up to seven flights a week between Vava’u and Tongatapu during the month of February.

The Australian Government plans to continue these arrangements for this critical connectivity until at least 30 June 2023, while Lulutai’s fleet undergoes maintenance.

Last week Australia and Tonga worked quickly on a similar arrangement which enabled the restoration of flights between Tongatapu and Vava’u on 30 January.
Australia’s High Commissioner to Tonga, Her Excellency Rachael Moore said the Australian Government is committed to a well-connected Pacific, underpinned by safe and reliable aviation services.

“We acknowledge that air services are critical for Tonga. Aviation is essential for economic recovery by generating trade, promoting tourism, creating employment opportunities, as well as for keeping families connected.”

Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku worked closely with Australia to negotiate this arrangement and today thanked Australia for its responsiveness.

“We thank the Government of Australia for this response, and for their ongoing support to Lulutai to support a strong and sustainable domestic airline”.

Australia is providing technical advice to Lulutai to develop a long-term business plan. In recent months, Australia has supported Lulutai Airlines to access critical training for pilots and engineers to ensure Tonga’s domestic routes are safely serviced.

Ms Moore said Australia will also continue to facilitate opportunities for training and ground support equipment and aviation weather infrastructure to support uplift capability and efficiency.


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


Australia gifts His Majesty’s Armed Forces hydrographic equipment

08 December 2022

This morning, the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and Minister for Defence Industry, Hon Pat Conroy MP, presented Australian-funded hydrographic equipment to His Majesty’s Armed Forces (HMAF) at the Masefield Naval Base, Touliki.

This is the first tranche of equipment under an agreed partnership between Australia and HMAF to rebuild Tonga’s sovereign hydrographic capability. This partnership aims to strengthen HMAF’s own national charting capabilities in order to better facilitate cruise ships and other large vessels for visits to Tonga and to conduct Rapid Environmental Assessments (REA) in the aftermath of natural disasters.

While in Tonga, Hon Pat Conroy MP was pleased to visit Masefield Naval Base and to present the critical equipment to HMAF. This includes geodetic equipment (which helps situate survey vessels relative to the environment) and some components of onboard survey equipment.

During the handover, the Minister highlighted Australia’s commitment to supporting Pacific solutions to Pacific challenges. He added that investing in sovereign capabilities for Pacific nations is a key component of promoting regional resilience.

“Australia is working in partnership to respond to Pacific priorities. The Defence Cooperation Program is the cornerstone of Australia’s Defence partnership with Tonga. We understand that the development of a sovereign hydrographic capability is a priority for Tonga.”

“Today’s handover represents a significant first step in support of this effort,” said the Hon Pat Conroy MP.

Present from HMAF to accept the equipment was Commander Holokaukau Lakai, Component Commander Navy and Director of Hydrography and Captain Sione Ulakai, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff.  High Commissioner Rachael Moore and Australia’s Defence Adviser, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Benporath were also in attendance to facilitate the handover and discussions between the Minister and HMAF representatives. 

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



6 Dec 2022

Australia’s Pacific Support Vessel, Australian Defence Vessel Reliant, arrived in Tonga on the 5th of December 2022.

Reliant will spend several months visiting seven Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste, during the Pacific’s high risk weather season, to provide maritime surveillance support and deliver essential cargo, including humanitarian supplies.

It will have a sustained presence in the Pacific to meet the needs of Timor-Leste and our Pacific family, including the ability to respond quickly in times of crisis.

At 102 metres long, the Reliant has a large cargo deck, heavy duty crane, and can produce thousands of litres of fresh water per day to provide targeted and effective support.

Reliant will enhance regional search and rescue, maritime surveillance, transport of essential cargo, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, while also providing support to training, regional engagement and capacity building activities.

The Australian High Commissioner to Tonga, HE Rachael Moore, said

“Australia is working with the Kingdom of Tonga to address shared challenges, including the effects of climate change and greater demands for disaster relief as we enter the cyclone season.” She further stated:

“We welcome the visit of the Reliant as a demonstration of Australia’s support to the security and resilience of the Kingdom of Tonga and the region. We look forward to her continued presence in the Pacific and to the support she will provide to the Kingdom over the coming years.”

The vessel’s embarked humanitarian and disaster relief supplies will enable the Reliant to quickly respond in the event of a natural disaster in the region and reinforces Australia’s commitment to meeting our Pacific family’s shared security responsibility.

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



The Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports program is partnering with Rugby Australia and Oceania Rugby to accelerate the development of women’s rugby in the Pacific.

Building on the success of the Fijiana Drua Rugby team’s inaugural Super W campaign and championship title in 2022, PacificAus Sports will provide scholarships to six players selected from the 2022 Oceania Rugby Women’s Combine from Samoa and Tonga to join Australian Super W clubs in 2023 on initial one-season contracts. 

Tongan athletes Shonte To’a and Tilila Hifo will join the ACT Brumbies. Samoa’s Easter Savelio and Fa’alua loe Tugaga will join the Melbourne Rebels, while Penina Tuilaepa and Angelica Uila will join the Western Force.

The Australian Government will continue to support the Fijiana Drua’s participation in the Super W competition, including the staging of two home matches in Fiji in 2023. Fijiana home matches draw large crowds in Fiji where rugby is the national sport.

Through PacificAus Sports, Rugby Australia and Oceania Rugby are also working with Pacific Unions to develop their current and emerging talent and create greater opportunities for Pacific teams and players to participate in Australian and regional rugby competitions.

Attributable to the Hon Pat Conroy MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific:

“Rugby Union brings people, and the Pacific, closer together. I know this firsthand having seen my daughter’s passion for rugby grow from us watching the Fijiana Drua win the Super W championship. 

There are fantastic opportunities for Pacific players to represent their countries on the world stage. I look forward to seeing our region show what they have got at the 2027 and 2029 Rugby World Cups in Australia, the Victorian 2026 Commonwealth Games and 2032 Brisbane Olympics.”

Attributable to the Andy Marinos, Rugby Australia CEO:

“PacificAus Sports funding is assisting more Pacific women to play Rugby and compete in the Buildcorp Super W competition – the Southern Hemisphere’s premier Women’s Rugby competition. It is great to see their success in Rugby is driving change on and off the field in Australia and the Pacific.”

Attributable to Cathy Wong, Women’s Director, Oceania Rugby:

“Oceania Rugby is proud to be driving this initiative through our partnership with the Australian Government and Rugby Australia supported by World Rugby. Having these six players spending time in the 2023 Super W season will be game-changing for Women’s Rugby in the Pacific.”

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


Australia Supports 'Uiha Island's Transition to Solar Power

14 Sept 2022

Australia is committed to supporting the Government of Tonga’s goal of moving to 70% renewable energy by 2030 and is proud to announce the island of ‘Uiha in Ha’apai is this week smoothly transitioning from diesel to solar power generation through the support of the Outer Islands Renewable Energy Project (OIREP) led by Asian Development Bank and co-financed by Australia and other donor partners.

The Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Rachael Moore, visited the ‘Uiha community last week to inspect OIREP’s progress. High Commissioner Moore was accompanied by the Acting Governor of Ha’apai, Ms. ‘Ana Uaafe Veikoso and the Infrastructure and Energy Program Manager, Mapa Taumalolo and officers from OIREP and the Australian High Commission.

Three Gamma Solutions technicians, Valentine, Álvaro and Paula, the Project Manager, Seti Chen and the Safeguard Specialist, Hikaione Loumoli are currently in ‘Uiha, Ha’apai to do the testing of the solar system operation.

Seti Chen said, “I am so thrilled to see the joy amongst the households in ‘Uiha and Felemea as they access electricity from the solar panels – these have provided 100% renewable power on 24-hour cycles since the testing commenced on Sunday 11 September. I can say we are now nearing final acceptance testing for a practical commissioning.”

Until now, households in ‘Uiha and Felemea had access to electricity generated by diesel in only 6 hours a day.

Halatokoua, one of the talking chiefs in ‘Uiha said, “I’m so happy to witness this milestone in ‘Uiha. Increasing our accessibility to electricity from 6 hours a day to 24 hours is just magical and phenomenal! I am just speechless to express my gratitude for this project. Praise the Lord!”

Under the program ‘Uiha has had a 100kWp solar mini-grid and 210kWh battery with 50kW diesel generation installed with wiring to 197 households.

‘Uiha residents can now iron their clothes and refrigerate their fishes, lobsters and octopus in their own home as long as they have the appliances.

The testing is scheduled to be completed on Friday 16 September and the team will move on to do the remaining works and testing in Ha’ano, Ha’apai.

There will be continuous on-job training by the OIREP team so that the communities solar committee will be familiar with the system and know how to operate their hybrid system. There is also software that’s connected to the technician’s phone to notify them once an issue is detected with their powerstaton.

‘Uiha also have a diesel genset as a backup - should any issue arise with the system the program will disconnect itself automatically.

Congratulations to the OIREP team and the ‘Uiha community on a job well done. And congratulations to the Government of Tonga for moving another step closer to your renewable energy target.

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


Australia and Tonga Enjoy 26 years of Partnership in Dental Health 

01 September 2022

A team from the Rotary Club of Ballarat West are in Tonga to handover dental equipment and medical supplies to Tongan schools. This is part of the Rotary club’s long-standing multi-disciplinary partnership which includes the Tonga Dental Health Project. The team of 14 is led by Dr David Goldsmith who began his connection with Tonga in 1996 and included John McDonald who has been working in partnership with Tonga for thirty years. 

At Queen Salote College on Monday 29 August 2022, the team was honoured by HM Queen Nanasipau’u commissioning the new dental clinic, complete with equipment and dental supplies, gifted by the Rotary Club of Ballarat West.

At the commissioning, the CEO for the Ministry of Health, Dr Siale ‘Akauola, commended Rotary’s efforts to help improve oral health care in Tonga, especially for young children. He noted the value of the long-term partnership, including the opportunity for Tongan dental professionals to undertake training in Ballarat.

Dr Goldsmith was pleased to be back in Tonga and expressed his joy in continuing to work with Tonga’s dental professionals including Dr Sisilia Fifita and her team at Vaiola dental clinic. He said Rotary intends to continue to help improving dental facilities and training local dentists.

He was proud to share that over the next two weeks, Tupou College and ‘Apifo’ou College will be also be equipped with dental chairs and equipment, and all three colleges have also received library resources (books and racks pre-arranged in the Dewey Decimal classification) and sick bay equipment (beds and medical supplies). The donations were shipped in two 40 feet containers sent by the Rotary to Tonga in April this year.

The Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Rachael Moore attended the commissioning and hosted a reception to welcome the Rotary team and thank them and the Rotary Club of Nuku’alofa.

She said this connection and contribution is a wonderful example of the long-term partnerships that Australia is proud of, and the people-to-people links like those made by the Rotary Club of Ballarat West are at the heart of the Australia’s relationship with Tonga.

The Dental Clinic’s Head of Division, Dr ‘Amanaki Fakakovikaetau, was at the reception and talked about the value of the friendship that Rotary and the dental clinic have fostered throughout the years, and the important work that has been done together including education awareness programs for young children. He thanked Dr Goldsmith and the team for their long term and valued efforts.

This work is in addition to Australia’s bilateral support to the Ministry of Health through the Tonga Health Systems Support Program (THSSP) currently about to commence its third phase. Through THSSP, Tonga has provided more than AUD 20 million since 2009. THSSP’s third phase will be implemented over three years with the objective of health system strengthening, equitable access to primary healthcare and a community centred approach to addressing non communicable disease in Tonga.

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


Australian Government's Continuing Support to Monitor Tonga's Tides & Tsunamis 

19 August 2022

Australian High Commissioner, HE Rachael Moore, and First Secretary Development, Shelly Thomson, were pleased to meet with the Australian Government funded Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac) team who are currently in Nuku'alofa conducting essential maintenance on the Tide and Tsunami Station and Global Navigation Satellite System.

The COSPPac program is in its second phase and supports 15 Pacific Islands to monitor their meteorological data to strengthen our understanding of climate, oceans and disaster resilience. In this second phase, DFT has provided AUD $28.6m worth of funding.

Jeff Aquilina and Brendon Collopy from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), and Poate Degei from the Secretariate Pacific Community (SPC) are in Nuku’alofa, working with Tonga Meteorological Services (Tonga MET), MEIDECC and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to decommission the old tide gauge at Queen Salote Wharf and replace it with a new tide and tsunami station at Vuna Wharf.

The team’s work on the tide and tsunami station will ensure that this technology can continue to provide updated tidal information every minute to Tonga Meteorological Services, Government of Tonga, BOM and the Secretariate of the Pacific Community (SPC). This tidal information is essential to develop the tide charts, track climate changes, and understand what happens during severe weather events and disasters, like the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai tsunami. This information is essential for informing the Tongan Governments coastal infrastructure planning especially during disaster recovery and enables accurate long-term sea level record for the Pacific region.

The tide and tsunami station in Nuku'alofa is one of 14 installed by the Australian Government across the Pacific. The tide station also works in conjunction with the Global Navigation Satellite Systems, located at Vuna Wharf and Apifo'ou College, which tracks seismic movement of the earth to help us track and understand the natural events which impact Tonga.

COSPPac is a partnership between the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Geoscience Australia, the Secretariate of the Pacific Community (SPC), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), who work together with local ministries and counterparts in each country. In Tonga, COSPPac works closely with the Tonga Meteorological Services (Tonga MET), MEIDECC and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

The Australian Government is pleased to support our Pacific family in tracking and understanding climate and ocean changes in our region so we can best support each other into the future.

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


Australian Government Continues To Donate Emergency Supplies To Tonga

26 July 2022

Australian Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. Donald Mortimore, and First Secretary Development, Ms. Shelly Thomson, attended an event this morning alongside Acting CEO of Tonga Power Limited Mr. Finau Moa and Chairman of Utilities Board, Mr. Tapu Panuve to hand over a donation of power supplies worth over AUD$290k.

This donation is part of Australia’s continued commitment to Tonga’s response and recovery from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami on 15 January 2022. This energy sector donation from Australia, totalling AUD $800,000, includes essential power supplies and equipment, mixed consumables, and power poles. The remaining $500,000 which includes eight transformers, and a large-scale baseload generator will arrive in Tonga at the end of August. In the aftermath of the eruption and tsunami, Australia also transferred 20,000L of diesel from HMAS Canberra to enable continued supply of power on ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u.

During her speech, Australian First Secretary, Shelly Thomson, commended Tonga Power Limited management, staff and implementing partners for their remarkable leadership and hard work post-disaster. She also emphasised the importance of power to the people of Tonga and the essential services.

“When Tonga Power Limited employees had their own families to care for and their own homes to clean and fix, they were working immediately to assess the damage; clean the network infrastructure to protect what they could and minimize the damage; and working tirelessly to repair the network and retore power to the families and communities of Tonga.”

“I wish to acknowledge the work of Tonga Power Limited employees and their partners, who through their hard work and long hours, were able to fully restore power to the people of Tongatapu only six days later by Friday 21st January,” said Shelly.

Australia continues to support Tonga to strengthen the reliability and resilience of the electricity network, and Tonga’s renewable energy goals through ongoing investments, such as:

  • AUD $9.5 million to the Outer Island Renewable Energy Project (OIREP), which is upgrading networks in ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u and building solar power capacity on and off grid in nine outer- islands;
  • AUD $3.5 million to the Tonga Renewable Energy Project (TREP) to expand access to clean, resilient and affordable energy for Tongans; and
  • AUD $5.3 million towards Area 3 of the Nuku’alofa Network Upgrade Project (NNUP)

It is these long-term partnerships, along with emergency supply donations, which support the Government of Tonga and TPL’s ongoing work to ensure that Tonga’s power network grows in resilience.


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


Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting - “We are stronger together”

13 July 2022

I’m delighted to be visiting Fiji this week for the Pacific Islands Forum — the region’s premier political and economic policy organisation.

For more than half a century, this Forum has been gathering in the Pacific Way. Bringing many voices together from across our beautiful and diverse islands. And projecting a strong voice across the vast Pacific Ocean and around the world.

For all of us, the Pacific is our home. As island nations, we are fellow voyagers. We share a love of the ocean that connects us; of the tides that bring us closer together; and the communities to which we belong.

We know we’re stronger together, and that unity is founded on listening and respect.

For Australia, the Pacific is our home and our heart. We treasure our bonds of friendship. We value our diversity, and yet we have so much in common.

We’ve always been there for each other in times of need — from fighting together in defence of liberty during the Second World War through to responding collectively to more recent natural disasters.

Just this year, Australia was proud to help Tonga after the devastating eruption of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcano. Australians have been touched by the support from our Pacific neighbours during recent bushfires and floods.

The Pacific Islands Forum has long been an important dialogue for our region, and this week is an opportunity for leaders to continue our conversation about the sort of region we want to be.

The island nations of the Pacific are global leaders on climate change. You are careful stewards of the beautiful Blue Pacific.

But as you know all too well, our region is facing an urgent climate challenge.  

Already, we’ve seen rising sea levels, saltwater incursion, food and water insecurity, biodiversity loss and an increasing frequency of extreme weather events.

We know climate change is an existential threat for many of our Pacific neighbours.

And under my Government, Australia will re-establish ourselves as a trusted climate partner and do our part keep 1.5 degrees of warming within reach. My government has increased Australia’s ambition, and have committed to reducing Australia’s emissions to 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. We will reach net zero by 2050.

We’re also committed to supporting the Pacific’s leadership and voice on climate change, and will stand with you in calling for greater action from countries around the world.

Already, my Government has announced new support for partners in our region including through a new Pacific Climate Infrastructure Financing Partnership to fund climate-related infrastructure and energy projects in Pacific countries and an increase to our Official Development Assistance to help with climate change adaptation and resilience in the Pacific.

On security, we all share a desire for a stable, peaceful and prosperous region where the rule of law and the sovereignty of all nations are respected.

We know there are significant security and geostrategic challenges before us. But we are strongest when we stand together. We have a proud record of responding collectively to challenges — whether it’s assisting each other in the wake of natural disasters; cooperating to counter illegal and unregulated fishing of our seas; or collective responses like RAMSI and the Solomons International Assistance Force.

We in the Pacific look out for each other. We know the security decisions taken by any one of us affect the other members of our community. That’s true for friends and neighbours in a village or town; and it’s just as true for a community of nations like ours.

Our collective security depends on our own decisions, as well as the decisions of our fellow island nations. We must work together to protect the Blue Pacific — and each other. Australia is committed to doing our part to address our shared security challenges.

We want to be a healthy and prosperous region, too.

We know the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating for Pacific Island nations — with a tragic loss of lives and livelihoods.

Australia has been proud to work with Pacific nations through the pandemic, including by providing end-to-end support for the rollout of safe and effective vaccines.

Pacific island nations can also depend on Australia to deliver quality, sustainable development investments that create local jobs and contribute to economic growth.

We will respond to the needs and priorities of Pacific nations without imposing unsustainable financial burdens or expecting something in return.

Our region also has deep wellsprings of culture that should be celebrated.

Australia is proud to be home to a vibrant and diverse Pacific diaspora community.

We benefit tremendously from this, and we want to expand access for Pacific peoples to our labour market and migration program, and ensure workers are treated fairly and have access to good working conditions.

We also want to share the rich heritage of our First Nations peoples more fully with our Pacific neighbours.

We are proud to be home to the oldest continuous living culture in the world, and we can learn so much from the wisdom of Indigenous peoples right across the Pacific region.

As we turn our minds to the next chapter in our shared story, I believe we face enormous opportunities.

Let us seize these opportunities together as One Blue Pacific.

Let us shape the future together, instead of letting the future shape us.

Australia is listening to you.

Australia is standing with you.

We are stronger together.


Hon Anthony Albanese MP
Prime Minister of Australia


Tupou Kafa Vainikolo Represents Tonga at the 2021‒25 UN Open Ended Working Group on Cyber

10 July 2022

Under the Women in Cyber Fellowship program, Australia was proud to support Tupou Kafa Vainikolo, Crown Prosecutor in the Attorney General’s Office, to attend the United Nations Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on cyber and supplementary negotiation skills and cyber policy training in New York in July 2022.

The Women in Cyber Fellowship was first launched in 2020 by Australia, together with the with Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It aims to promote greater diversity and inclusion – both from a gender and a geography perspective – in cyberspace and critical technology discussions and decisions with global implications.

Australia is committed to working with Pacific island countries to champion a safe, secure, and prosperous Australia, Indo-Pacific and world enabled by cyberspace and critical technology. The 2018 Boe Declaration highlights cyber security as an emerging security challenge for the region and recognised the need to maximise the protections and opportunities for Pacific Island countries in the digital age.

In response, Australia established its flagship Cyber and Critical Tech Cooperation Program (CCTCP) which partners with Pacific island countries to improve cyber resilience across a full spectrum of cyber affairs, aligning with priorities identified in Australia’s 2021 International Cyber and Critical Technology Engagement Strategy.

Through projects including the Women in Cyber Fellowship, online safety campaigns and technical training, Australia is pleased to support Tonga’s own ambitions to respond to the challenges, and embrace the opportunities, that cyberspace and critical technologies present.

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


Sister City agreement shows strong bonds between Tonga and Australia

29 June 2022

Strong bonds between Tonga and Australia led to the signing last week of a Sister City agreement between Kolomotu’a on Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, and the New South Wales country town of Gunnedah, where Tongan workers are filling critical workforce shortages through the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme. 

Tonga’s High Commissioner to Australia, Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Tukuʻaho, visited Gunnedah on Friday to formalise the agreement and to acknowledge the contribution that workers are making to both countries.  

Her Royal Highness told local media that the Sister City agreement presented opportunities for mutual benefit in a wide range of areas. 

"It's a very historical day both for Kolomotu'a and Gunnedah and because of the opportunities for people to come and help in different sectors and areas," she said.

The PALM scheme allows Pacific and Timor-Leste workers to take up jobs in regional Australia, develop their skills and send income home to support their families and communities. Since November 2019, more than $A5 million has been contributed to the Tongan economy through remittances earned through the PALM scheme.

Through the scheme, eligible businesses can recruit workers for seasonal jobs for up to 9 months or for longer-term roles for between one and 4 years in unskilled, low-skilled and semi-skilled positions.

In the northwest region of NSW, where Gunnedah is located, Tongan workers are mostly working in agriculture and meat processing businesses.

Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey said there were many ties between the two sister cities, including a love of the land, a strong tradition in agriculture and passion for the future of their homes. 

“A number of citizens of Tonga have lived and worked in Gunnedah for many years as seasonal workforce. They have built strong ties between their homes and ours. These Tongan nationals have proved that Tongan people are hardworking, reliable, respectful and a loving people,” he said. 

While in Gunnedah, Her Royal Highness visited Li’l Achievers Early Learning Centre and Gunnible Pastoral Company, and enjoyed performances by the local Tongan community, the Gunnedah Conservatorium, and local high schools.

For more information about the PALM scheme, visit


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


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 physic al 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


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


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



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


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 (


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



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




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




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



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