THE Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga, Lord Tu’ivakano, and Defence Minister, Dr Jonathan Coleman, have signed a treaty-level agreement that will build the relationship between the Tonga Defence Service (TDS) and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
The agreement was signed at the inaugural South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting hosted by Tonga which Dr Coleman is currently attending, along with representatives from Australia, Papua New Guinea, France and Chile.
“The Tonga – New Zealand Visiting Forces Agreement will allow members of the New Zealand Defence Force to stay temporarily in Tonga, which will enable increased inter-operability with the TDS,” said Lord Tu’ivakano.
“New Zealand‘s defence relationship with Tonga is a priority within the South Pacific region,” Dr Coleman said,
“The TDS is a valuable partner for the NZDF. We’ve worked closely together on regional security operations such as the Regional Assistance Mission in Solomon Islands (RAMSI).”
“Our historical defence cooperation dates back to World War One when Tongan citizens served with the New Zealand Army. More recently, we have worked in partnership on projects in Tonga, exercises in our region and in preparation for operations further afield,” Lord Tu’ivakano said