Tonga welcomes New Zealand new foreign affairs minister with a hāʻunga in ʻAlakifonua


New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Gerry Brownlee was formally welcomed in Tonga with presentation of the traditional hāʻunga.

The baked food and Tongan gifts given to welcome the New Zealand delegation was held at ʻAlakifonua.

Hon. Brownlee arrived in Tonga today Wednesday 10 on his first visit to a Pacific Island country in his new role.

He had a wide ranging conversation on security and policing issues when he met with the Minister of Police, the Honourable Mateni Tapueluelu.

“The Ministers spoke openly about the working relationship between the two countries”.

He also met with Tongan Minister for Defence Lord Ma’afu and Chief of Defence Brigadier Fielakepa to discuss the long-standing and strong relationship between the New Zealand and Tongan Defence Forces.

“Minister Brownlee observed the military workshop and training facilities at Taliai Military Camp, Fua’amotu, where training is supported by New Zealand Defence Adviser, Warrant Officer Roger Middleton”.

Her Excellency New Zealand High Commissioner Sarah Walsh and Hon. Brownlee were accompanied by Officer in Charge District Commander Tevita Vailea and New Zealand Police Superintendent Ged Byers to view the refurbishment of the Central Police Station in Nuku’alofa.

“The long-awaited refurbishment was made possible through funding provided by the governments of New Zealand and Australia under the Tonga Police Development Programme”.

Hon. Brownlee also had the opportunity to view the solar panels at the Police Headquarters in Longolongo.

“Installation of solar panels at police stations across the Kingdom of Tonga through the Tonga Police Development Programme is reducing Tonga Police’s operating costs and contributing to Tonga’s renewable energy targets.

“The New Zealand Government has been working in partnership with Tonga Police for ten years to develop the leadership and core policing skills of Tongan Police Officers, reduce domestic violence, provide the necessary infrastructure to support efficient policing, and strengthen opportunities for Police and community engagement”.

‘Alakifonua villagers presented the ha’unga for Hon. Brownlee to show their appreciation for New Zealand’s support in improving the safety and reliability of electricity in their homes.

“Between 2010 and 2018, New Zealand will have invested NZ$28m in the project to help 50 rural villages in Tongatapu, giving Tongan residents greater access to safe and reliable electricity”.

Hon. Brownlee congratulated four of the 17 trainees from Tonga Power Limited on their achievement of becoming the first NZQA qualified line mechanics outside of New Zealand after completing the Level 4 New Zealand Certificate in Electricity Supply (Line Mechanic Distribution).