HMNZS Canterbury departs for Tonga as NZ ramps up support

By Te Ao - Māori News
Photo / NZDF

HMNZS Canterbury departed Auckland for Tonga overnight as NZ's response ramps up to support the volcano and tsunami-affected Kingdom.

“The HMNZS Canterbury will have on board additional stores such as tarpaulins, water containers, milk powder, as well as engineering equipment to clear debris and two NH-90 helicopters,” Defence Minister Peeni Henare said in a statement Friday afternoon, announcing HMNZS Canterbury would leave from Devonport for Tonga overnight.

The NZ Defence Force says New Zealand Army engineers and plant operators are among those deploying to Tonga onboard the Canterbury.

"They’ll be able to help purify water, assist with clean-up of debris, and help out with construction tasks to make buildings safe to use, if this help is needed," the NZDF says.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force No. 3 Squadron's two NH-90 helicopters onboard the Canterbury have had extra corrosion preventative measures applied to mitigate the harsh ash-laden and saline environment.

The NZDF says the squadron has the capability to operate from either the Canterbury or ashore as required.

The Canterbury will join the Royal New Zealand Navy's Wellington and Aotearoa which are already in Tonga. 

New Zealand is giving an additional $2 million in humanitarian funding for Tonga as the country recovers from last weekend's volcanic eruption and tsunami, bringing New Zealand’s contribution to $3 million.

“This support will enable more crucial supplies, such as drinking water, food supplies, as well as engineering equipment and tools to clear debris, to be sent to Tonga in the coming days and weeks,” Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Minister Henare said in the Friday statement.

Mahuta says she spoke with her Tongan counterpart, Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, on Friday to discuss relief efforts and how the two countries can work together to support relief and recovery efforts. It followed a call Thursday between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni.

“We discussed the significant challenges Tonga has in looking after its people as it cleans up after this disaster. I have assured her that we stand by to offer more assistance when needed,” Mahuta said.