Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee will today travel to Tonga to meet His Majesty King Tupou VI, Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva and cabinet ministers.
The visit will be the first by a New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister to Tonga since early 2015 and will provide an opportunity for Mr Brownlee to build on the strong bilateral relationship between New Zealand and Tonga.
“With over 60,000 Tongans living in New Zealand, the connections between Tonga and New Zealand are based on family and community links, as well as a strong government-to-government relationship,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Tonga is an important partner on key regional priorities such as fisheries and regional connectivity.
“This visit to Tonga early in my tenure as Foreign Affairs Minister reinforces the importance New Zealand places on its relationships with Pacific Island countries.
“I will discuss Tonga’s priorities for New Zealand’s assistance to Tonga, including energy, policing, justice and education,” Mr Brownlee says.
While in Tonga, Mr Brownlee will meet with business leaders and visit New Zealand-funded renewable energy projects to see the difference that New Zealand development assistance is making to the people of Tonga.
“Tonga’s small but growing economy presents opportunities for New Zealand businesses – particularly in the areas of energy, construction materials, wharf development and tourism,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand has committed around $62 million development assistance to Tonga over the 2015-16 to 2017-18 financial years.