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NZDF update on response to Tonga: 19 January

The New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) response to the developing situation in Tonga is well underway with aid and support en route to the Pacific island nation.

19 January, 2022

View the latest updates on the NZDF Tonga Response page here.

The New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) response to the developing situation in Tonga is well underway with aid and support en route to the Pacific island nation.

On Monday, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion flight provided imagery which was analysed and has substantially assisted Tonga and NZDF to understand the impact of the events in Tonga, as well as damage to infrastructure to inform response options following Saturday’s undersea eruption and tsunami.

ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE P-3K2 ORION RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHT

Another P-3K2 Orion flight departed RNZAF Base Auckland today to undertake further surveillance of Tonga and to also capture imagery over the southern Lau group of Fiji. The aircraft is due back in Auckland this evening and images collected will be passed on to Tongan and Fijian officials to assist them with recovery efforts.

On Tuesday, Royal New Zealand Navy ships HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa departed for Tonga.

HMNZS Aotearoa has bulk water supplies on board and both ships are carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies.

HMNZS Wellington has Navy hydrographic and dive personnel to survey changes to shipping channels and also has a Seasprite helicopter on board to assist with supply delivery.

Both ships are making good progress and are due in Tongan waters on Friday.

It is hoped that clearing of the runway at Fua’amotu International Airport will allow New Zealand’s first C-130H(NZ) Hercules flight of relief supplies to proceed this week. 

Planning and preparations continue for the deployment of HMNZS Canterbury, with NH90 helicopters on board, and elements from the New Zealand Army including engineers and a tri-Service command team.