16 Apr 2011

NZDF part of multi national team provides assistance in Tonga

10:24 am on 16 April 2011

The New Zealand Defence Force is part of a multi national team providing help and assistance on Tonga's remote northern island, Niuatoputapu.

Niuatoputapu, which has a population of just under 900, was devastated by the tsunami which followed the 2009 Samoan earthquake.

Nine people on the island died in the disaster and a lot of coastal property was destroyed.

The Pacific Partnership is a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response exercise, also involving the United States, Australia and France, which is carrying out civil aid in Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia.

HMNZS CANTERBURY, her crew and up to 250 personnel including medical experts and engineers, have been anchored off Niuatoputapu since Wednesday.

The Commander of the New Zealand contingent, Lieutenant Colonel Don Jones, says the team is undertaking a number of different jobs.

"Medical work, dental work, engineering work and also refurbishment work and repairs at a high school at Hihifo and a primary school at Falehao. There is school various ablutions block repairs at public facilities. We are also moving a Red Cross shelter to be part of the government building complex and we are servicing machinery and generators."

Lieutenant Colonel Don Jones.