Tropic Twilight touches down in Tonga

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Foreign Minister Murray McCully today announced that this year’s Tropic Twilight Exercise will be conducted in Tonga’s Ha’apai group of islands.

“Tropic Twilight is an annual exercise in the Pacific which tests the readiness of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to work with the military and governments from around the region on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Mr Brownlee says.

“The benefits of this training were seen earlier this year when a number of countries co-operated to support Fiji’s response to Cyclone Winston.”

The exercise will take place from 7 to 28 July and includes military representatives from China, United States and France, along with members of Tonga’s His Majesty’s Armed Forces and officials from the New Zealand and Tongan governments.

“Tropic Twilight allows NZDF to practice deploying in the Pacific, while also supporting a range of development activities funded through our aid programme,” Mr McCully says.

“It is an opportunity to support the development of infrastructure in some isolated parts of the Pacific and this year the focus is on improving water collection and storage in the Ha’apai group.”

The Ha’apai group is made up of 62 islands that are vulnerable to natural disasters and have limited drinking water supplies. This year Pangai town, Lotofoa village and Faleloa village will benefit from water storage improvements and a public toilet block will also be built. An environmental health team will also carry out a mosquito eradication programme aimed at reducing diseases such as dengue and zika.

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