Australian High Commission
Kingdom of Tonga

Media Release


Australia Supports 'Uiha Island's Transition to Solar Power

14 Sept 2022

Australia is committed to supporting the Government of Tonga’s goal of moving to 70% renewable energy by 2030 and is proud to announce the island of ‘Uiha in Ha’apai is this week smoothly transitioning from diesel to solar power generation through the support of the Outer Islands Renewable Energy Project (OIREP) led by Asian Development Bank and co-financed by Australia and other donor partners.

The Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Rachael Moore, visited the ‘Uiha community last week to inspect OIREP’s progress. High Commissioner Moore was accompanied by the Acting Governor of Ha’apai, Ms. ‘Ana Uaafe Veikoso and the Infrastructure and Energy Program Manager, Mapa Taumalolo and officers from OIREP and the Australian High Commission.

Three Gamma Solutions technicians, Valentine, Álvaro and Paula, the Project Manager, Seti Chen and the Safeguard Specialist, Hikaione Loumoli are currently in ‘Uiha, Ha’apai to do the testing of the solar system operation.

Seti Chen said, “I am so thrilled to see the joy amongst the households in ‘Uiha and Felemea as they access electricity from the solar panels – these have provided 100% renewable power on 24-hour cycles since the testing commenced on Sunday 11 September. I can say we are now nearing final acceptance testing for a practical commissioning.”

Until now, households in ‘Uiha and Felemea had access to electricity generated by diesel in only 6 hours a day.

Halatokoua, one of the talking chiefs in ‘Uiha said, “I’m so happy to witness this milestone in ‘Uiha. Increasing our accessibility to electricity from 6 hours a day to 24 hours is just magical and phenomenal! I am just speechless to express my gratitude for this project. Praise the Lord!”

Under the program ‘Uiha has had a 100kWp solar mini-grid and 210kWh battery with 50kW diesel generation installed with wiring to 197 households.

‘Uiha residents can now iron their clothes and refrigerate their fishes, lobsters and octopus in their own home as long as they have the appliances.

The testing is scheduled to be completed on Friday 16 September and the team will move on to do the remaining works and testing in Ha’ano, Ha’apai.

There will be continuous on-job training by the OIREP team so that the communities solar committee will be familiar with the system and know how to operate their hybrid system. There is also software that’s connected to the technician’s phone to notify them once an issue is detected with their powerstaton.

‘Uiha also have a diesel genset as a backup - should any issue arise with the system the program will disconnect itself automatically.

Congratulations to the OIREP team and the ‘Uiha community on a job well done. And congratulations to the Government of Tonga for moving another step closer to your renewable energy target.

Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa


Australia and Tonga Enjoy 26 years of Partnership in Dental Health 

01 September 2022

A team from the Rotary Club of Ballarat West are in Tonga to handover dental equipment and medical supplies to Tongan schools. This is part of the Rotary club’s long-standing multi-disciplinary partnership which includes the Tonga Dental Health Project. The team of 14 is led by Dr David Goldsmith who began his connection with Tonga in 1996 and included John McDonald who has been working in partnership with Tonga for thirty years. 

At Queen Salote College on Monday 29 August 2022, the team was honoured by HM Queen Nanasipau’u commissioning the new dental clinic, complete with equipment and dental supplies, gifted by the Rotary Club of Ballarat West.

At the commissioning, the CEO for the Ministry of Health, Dr Siale ‘Akauola, commended Rotary’s efforts to help improve oral health care in Tonga, especially for young children. He noted the value of the long-term partnership, including the opportunity for Tongan dental professionals to undertake training in Ballarat.

Dr Goldsmith was pleased to be back in Tonga and expressed his joy in continuing to work with Tonga’s dental professionals including Dr Sisilia Fifita and her team at Vaiola dental clinic. He said Rotary intends to continue to help improving dental facilities and training local dentists.

He was proud to share that over the next two weeks, Tupou College and ‘Apifo’ou College will be also be equipped with dental chairs and equipment, and all three colleges have also received library resources (books and racks pre-arranged in the Dewey Decimal classification) and sick bay equipment (beds and medical supplies). The donations were shipped in two 40 feet containers sent by the Rotary to Tonga in April this year.

The Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Rachael Moore attended the commissioning and hosted a reception to welcome the Rotary team and thank them and the Rotary Club of Nuku’alofa.

She said this connection and contribution is a wonderful example of the long-term partnerships that Australia is proud of, and the people-to-people links like those made by the Rotary Club of Ballarat West are at the heart of the Australia’s relationship with Tonga.

The Dental Clinic’s Head of Division, Dr ‘Amanaki Fakakovikaetau, was at the reception and talked about the value of the friendship that Rotary and the dental clinic have fostered throughout the years, and the important work that has been done together including education awareness programs for young children. He thanked Dr Goldsmith and the team for their long term and valued efforts.

This work is in addition to Australia’s bilateral support to the Ministry of Health through the Tonga Health Systems Support Program (THSSP) currently about to commence its third phase. Through THSSP, Tonga has provided more than AUD 20 million since 2009. THSSP’s third phase will be implemented over three years with the objective of health system strengthening, equitable access to primary healthcare and a community centred approach to addressing non communicable disease in Tonga.

Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa


Australian Government's Continuing Support to Monitor Tonga's Tides & Tsunamis 

19 August 2022

Australian High Commissioner, HE Rachael Moore, and First Secretary Development, Shelly Thomson, were pleased to meet with the Australian Government funded Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac) team who are currently in Nuku'alofa conducting essential maintenance on the Tide and Tsunami Station and Global Navigation Satellite System.

The COSPPac program is in its second phase and supports 15 Pacific Islands to monitor their meteorological data to strengthen our understanding of climate, oceans and disaster resilience. In this second phase, DFT has provided AUD $28.6m worth of funding.

Jeff Aquilina and Brendon Collopy from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), and Poate Degei from the Secretariate Pacific Community (SPC) are in Nuku’alofa, working with Tonga Meteorological Services (Tonga MET), MEIDECC and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to decommission the old tide gauge at Queen Salote Wharf and replace it with a new tide and tsunami station at Vuna Wharf.

The team’s work on the tide and tsunami station will ensure that this technology can continue to provide updated tidal information every minute to Tonga Meteorological Services, Government of Tonga, BOM and the Secretariate of the Pacific Community (SPC). This tidal information is essential to develop the tide charts, track climate changes, and understand what happens during severe weather events and disasters, like the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai tsunami. This information is essential for informing the Tongan Governments coastal infrastructure planning especially during disaster recovery and enables accurate long-term sea level record for the Pacific region.

The tide and tsunami station in Nuku'alofa is one of 14 installed by the Australian Government across the Pacific. The tide station also works in conjunction with the Global Navigation Satellite Systems, located at Vuna Wharf and Apifo'ou College, which tracks seismic movement of the earth to help us track and understand the natural events which impact Tonga.

COSPPac is a partnership between the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Geoscience Australia, the Secretariate of the Pacific Community (SPC), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), who work together with local ministries and counterparts in each country. In Tonga, COSPPac works closely with the Tonga Meteorological Services (Tonga MET), MEIDECC and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

The Australian Government is pleased to support our Pacific family in tracking and understanding climate and ocean changes in our region so we can best support each other into the future.

Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa


Australian Government Continues To Donate Emergency Supplies To Tonga

26 July 2022

Australian Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. Donald Mortimore, and First Secretary Development, Ms. Shelly Thomson, attended an event this morning alongside Acting CEO of Tonga Power Limited Mr. Finau Moa and Chairman of Utilities Board, Mr. Tapu Panuve to hand over a donation of power supplies worth over AUD$290k.

This donation is part of Australia’s continued commitment to Tonga’s response and recovery from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami on 15 January 2022. This energy sector donation from Australia, totalling AUD $800,000, includes essential power supplies and equipment, mixed consumables, and power poles. The remaining $500,000 which includes eight transformers, and a large-scale baseload generator will arrive in Tonga at the end of August. In the aftermath of the eruption and tsunami, Australia also transferred 20,000L of diesel from HMAS Canberra to enable continued supply of power on ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u.

During her speech, Australian First Secretary, Shelly Thomson, commended Tonga Power Limited management, staff and implementing partners for their remarkable leadership and hard work post-disaster. She also emphasised the importance of power to the people of Tonga and the essential services.

“When Tonga Power Limited employees had their own families to care for and their own homes to clean and fix, they were working immediately to assess the damage; clean the network infrastructure to protect what they could and minimize the damage; and working tirelessly to repair the network and retore power to the families and communities of Tonga.”

“I wish to acknowledge the work of Tonga Power Limited employees and their partners, who through their hard work and long hours, were able to fully restore power to the people of Tongatapu only six days later by Friday 21st January,” said Shelly.

Australia continues to support Tonga to strengthen the reliability and resilience of the electricity network, and Tonga’s renewable energy goals through ongoing investments, such as:

  • AUD $9.5 million to the Outer Island Renewable Energy Project (OIREP), which is upgrading networks in ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u and building solar power capacity on and off grid in nine outer- islands;
  • AUD $3.5 million to the Tonga Renewable Energy Project (TREP) to expand access to clean, resilient and affordable energy for Tongans; and
  • AUD $5.3 million towards Area 3 of the Nuku’alofa Network Upgrade Project (NNUP)

It is these long-term partnerships, along with emergency supply donations, which support the Government of Tonga and TPL’s ongoing work to ensure that Tonga’s power network grows in resilience.


Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa


Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting - “We are stronger together”

13 July 2022

I’m delighted to be visiting Fiji this week for the Pacific Islands Forum — the region’s premier political and economic policy organisation.

For more than half a century, this Forum has been gathering in the Pacific Way. Bringing many voices together from across our beautiful and diverse islands. And projecting a strong voice across the vast Pacific Ocean and around the world.

For all of us, the Pacific is our home. As island nations, we are fellow voyagers. We share a love of the ocean that connects us; of the tides that bring us closer together; and the communities to which we belong.

We know we’re stronger together, and that unity is founded on listening and respect.

For Australia, the Pacific is our home and our heart. We treasure our bonds of friendship. We value our diversity, and yet we have so much in common.

We’ve always been there for each other in times of need — from fighting together in defence of liberty during the Second World War through to responding collectively to more recent natural disasters.

Just this year, Australia was proud to help Tonga after the devastating eruption of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcano. Australians have been touched by the support from our Pacific neighbours during recent bushfires and floods.

The Pacific Islands Forum has long been an important dialogue for our region, and this week is an opportunity for leaders to continue our conversation about the sort of region we want to be.

The island nations of the Pacific are global leaders on climate change. You are careful stewards of the beautiful Blue Pacific.

But as you know all too well, our region is facing an urgent climate challenge.  

Already, we’ve seen rising sea levels, saltwater incursion, food and water insecurity, biodiversity loss and an increasing frequency of extreme weather events.

We know climate change is an existential threat for many of our Pacific neighbours.

And under my Government, Australia will re-establish ourselves as a trusted climate partner and do our part keep 1.5 degrees of warming within reach. My government has increased Australia’s ambition, and have committed to reducing Australia’s emissions to 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. We will reach net zero by 2050.

We’re also committed to supporting the Pacific’s leadership and voice on climate change, and will stand with you in calling for greater action from countries around the world.

Already, my Government has announced new support for partners in our region including through a new Pacific Climate Infrastructure Financing Partnership to fund climate-related infrastructure and energy projects in Pacific countries and an increase to our Official Development Assistance to help with climate change adaptation and resilience in the Pacific.

On security, we all share a desire for a stable, peaceful and prosperous region where the rule of law and the sovereignty of all nations are respected.

We know there are significant security and geostrategic challenges before us. But we are strongest when we stand together. We have a proud record of responding collectively to challenges — whether it’s assisting each other in the wake of natural disasters; cooperating to counter illegal and unregulated fishing of our seas; or collective responses like RAMSI and the Solomons International Assistance Force.

We in the Pacific look out for each other. We know the security decisions taken by any one of us affect the other members of our community. That’s true for friends and neighbours in a village or town; and it’s just as true for a community of nations like ours.

Our collective security depends on our own decisions, as well as the decisions of our fellow island nations. We must work together to protect the Blue Pacific — and each other. Australia is committed to doing our part to address our shared security challenges.

We want to be a healthy and prosperous region, too.

We know the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating for Pacific Island nations — with a tragic loss of lives and livelihoods.

Australia has been proud to work with Pacific nations through the pandemic, including by providing end-to-end support for the rollout of safe and effective vaccines.

Pacific island nations can also depend on Australia to deliver quality, sustainable development investments that create local jobs and contribute to economic growth.

We will respond to the needs and priorities of Pacific nations without imposing unsustainable financial burdens or expecting something in return.

Our region also has deep wellsprings of culture that should be celebrated.

Australia is proud to be home to a vibrant and diverse Pacific diaspora community.

We benefit tremendously from this, and we want to expand access for Pacific peoples to our labour market and migration program, and ensure workers are treated fairly and have access to good working conditions.

We also want to share the rich heritage of our First Nations peoples more fully with our Pacific neighbours.

We are proud to be home to the oldest continuous living culture in the world, and we can learn so much from the wisdom of Indigenous peoples right across the Pacific region.

As we turn our minds to the next chapter in our shared story, I believe we face enormous opportunities.

Let us seize these opportunities together as One Blue Pacific.

Let us shape the future together, instead of letting the future shape us.

Australia is listening to you.

Australia is standing with you.

We are stronger together.


Hon Anthony Albanese MP
Prime Minister of Australia


Tupou Kafa Vainikolo Represents Tonga at the 2021‒25 UN Open Ended Working Group on Cyber

10 July 2022

Under the Women in Cyber Fellowship program, Australia was proud to support Tupou Kafa Vainikolo, Crown Prosecutor in the Attorney General’s Office, to attend the United Nations Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on cyber and supplementary negotiation skills and cyber policy training in New York in July 2022.

The Women in Cyber Fellowship was first launched in 2020 by Australia, together with the with Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It aims to promote greater diversity and inclusion – both from a gender and a geography perspective – in cyberspace and critical technology discussions and decisions with global implications.

Australia is committed to working with Pacific island countries to champion a safe, secure, and prosperous Australia, Indo-Pacific and world enabled by cyberspace and critical technology. The 2018 Boe Declaration highlights cyber security as an emerging security challenge for the region and recognised the need to maximise the protections and opportunities for Pacific Island countries in the digital age.

In response, Australia established its flagship Cyber and Critical Tech Cooperation Program (CCTCP) which partners with Pacific island countries to improve cyber resilience across a full spectrum of cyber affairs, aligning with priorities identified in Australia’s 2021 International Cyber and Critical Technology Engagement Strategy.

Through projects including the Women in Cyber Fellowship, online safety campaigns and technical training, Australia is pleased to support Tonga’s own ambitions to respond to the challenges, and embrace the opportunities, that cyberspace and critical technologies present.

Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa


Sister City agreement shows strong bonds between Tonga and Australia

29 June 2022

Strong bonds between Tonga and Australia led to the signing last week of a Sister City agreement between Kolomotu’a on Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, and the New South Wales country town of Gunnedah, where Tongan workers are filling critical workforce shortages through the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme. 

Tonga’s High Commissioner to Australia, Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Tukuʻaho, visited Gunnedah on Friday to formalise the agreement and to acknowledge the contribution that workers are making to both countries.  

Her Royal Highness told local media that the Sister City agreement presented opportunities for mutual benefit in a wide range of areas. 

"It's a very historical day both for Kolomotu'a and Gunnedah and because of the opportunities for people to come and help in different sectors and areas," she said.

The PALM scheme allows Pacific and Timor-Leste workers to take up jobs in regional Australia, develop their skills and send income home to support their families and communities. Since November 2019, more than $A5 million has been contributed to the Tongan economy through remittances earned through the PALM scheme.

Through the scheme, eligible businesses can recruit workers for seasonal jobs for up to 9 months or for longer-term roles for between one and 4 years in unskilled, low-skilled and semi-skilled positions.

In the northwest region of NSW, where Gunnedah is located, Tongan workers are mostly working in agriculture and meat processing businesses.

Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey said there were many ties between the two sister cities, including a love of the land, a strong tradition in agriculture and passion for the future of their homes. 

“A number of citizens of Tonga have lived and worked in Gunnedah for many years as seasonal workforce. They have built strong ties between their homes and ours. These Tongan nationals have proved that Tongan people are hardworking, reliable, respectful and a loving people,” he said. 

While in Gunnedah, Her Royal Highness visited Li’l Achievers Early Learning Centre and Gunnible Pastoral Company, and enjoyed performances by the local Tongan community, the Gunnedah Conservatorium, and local high schools.

For more information about the PALM scheme, visit


Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa


Australian High Commissioner statement on increased connectivity between Tonga and Australia

04 May 2022 

After the challenges we have experienced to connectivity as a result of COVID-19, I am delighted the physic al links between Australia and Tonga are building back.  We are looking forward to greater flight connectivity between Tonga and Australia beginning this June, and I thank the Government of Tonga for taking the initiative to increase the frequency of passenger flights between our countries. 

While our physical links were temporarily less frequent, the link of friendship has always been strong.   As members of the Pacific family, Australia and Tonga share a close relationship, built over more than fifty years of diplomatic relations. We are tightly bound together by our shared place in the Pacific, but geography is only one part of the story. We have built strong cultural, family, economic and sporting ties over many decades, and our partnership continues to reach new heights.

As members of the Pacific family, Australia will always stand ready to support Tonga in times of need – just as Tonga reached out to Australia during our 2020 bushfires. Following January’s eruption and tsunami, we saw an incredible outpouring of support from Australians. Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Latufuipeka Tuku’aho, the Kingdom’s High Commissioner in Australia, led the local response, arranging donations and resources for affected Tongan communities. The Tongan diaspora across Australia continues to deliver donations from Australian schools, rugby matches and churches to Tonga.

And we were proud to work so closely with the Tongan Government on the disaster response. Our decades-long partnership in humanitarian response, disaster resilience and defence cooperation swung into action. It is the reason we were able to so quickly deliver over 440 tonnes of emergency supplies, reconstruction materials and COVID-19 support to Tonga. It was wonderful to see a comprehensive response by the Pacific family with military personnel from Fiji and the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia joining the HMAS Adelaide, Supply and Canberra (three of Australia’s largest navy vessels!) in conducting clean-up operations, delivery of vaccines, and restoration of international telecommunications.

But we do not just work together in a crisis. Over many years Australia and Tonga have cooperated in many fields in support of Tonga’s continuing development – and so much of this is founded on the links between our people and communities. There are almost 4,000 Tongan workers in Australia filling gaps in Australia’s workforce and delivering economic benefits and skills home to Tonga. The reconstruction of Tonga’s Parliament House and Legislative Offices by Australia and New Zealand will focus on using local labour wherever possible, and the new kava pilot is allowing the commercial import of kava to Australia, offering important economic opportunities to Tonga and easier supply for Pacific communities in Australia.

With the Australia Awards restarting, we hope that up to 25 Tongan students will soon be able to commence their studies in Australia. We are also supporting the World Bank’s Safe and Resilient Schools Project in Tonga, which is improving school infrastructure and supporting an upgrade of curricula and assessments. And Australians are thrilled to watch elite Tongan athletes compete in our premier rugby league and rugby union competitions.   

Our shared values, as well as a common love of sport, food and Pacific arts, is the foundation of our nations’ partnership. It is deeper than politics or even friendship. It is family.  


Rachael Moore
Australian High Commissioner to Tonga


Statement from the Australian High Commissioner - Australia and Tonga attend Our Ocean Conference 2022.

14 April 2022

Australia is proud to join our Pacific family at the ‘Our Ocean Conference 2022’ in Palau 13‑14 April. The conference is an opportunity to discuss the unique challenges associated with our oceanic environment, specifically the health of our oceans and the effects of climate change.  

The Conference will cut across numerous themes including: the ocean-climate nexus, sustainable fisheries, creating sustainable blue economies, advancing marine protected areas, achieving a safe and secure ocean, and tackling marine pollution.

We are delighted to see this event being held in the region for the first time, amplifying the important voices of the Pacific. The most pressing ocean issues—such as marine plastics, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the impact of climate change—need regional and global solutions and this Conference will be one of many steps contributing to these solutions.

The ocean gives us life. We rely on it for food, livelihoods, climate resilience and recreation. Ensuring the longevity of our planet’s life force requires decisive and collective action.

It is for this reason Australia proudly expanded its world-leading network of Indigenous Protected Areas to include the establishment of Sea Country. The Sea Country IPAs Program was announced on 23 April 2021 as part of an Australian Government $100 million investment in the management of ocean habitats and coastal environments and reducing emissions.

Australia remains committed to ocean conservation and sustainable use, climate action and our ongoing support to Pacific Island countries on these issues and looks forward to robust, and constructive discussions.

In the spirit of the theme for this year’s conference, “Our Ocean, Our People, Our Prosperity”, staff from the Australian High Commission collected a truck load of rubbish from Vuna Wharf this morning. Correctly disposing of rubbish is one of the best things we can do to help remove and reduce plastic pollution in the ocean and protect the precious marine life.

Let’s work continue to work together to preserve the pristine ocean and marine life in Tonga. Everyone can be part of the solution.

‘Ofa ‘atu

Rachael Moore
Australian High Commissioner


Australia’s AUD 18m commitment to Tonga

12 April 2022

Australia’s High Commissioner to Tonga, Her Excellency Rachael Moore and Tonga’s Minister for Finance, the Honourable Tatafu Moeaki are pleased to announce a finalised agreement for Australia to provide Tonga up to AUD 18 million in budget support to assist Tonga’s recovery, reconstruction and resilience building priorities, and response to COVID-19.

“We acknowledge the core values of Tonga; Fefaka’apa’apa’aki, Feveitokai’aki, Lototoo and Tauhi vaha’a.  We have seen these values in action over the past few months as families and communities in Tonga and around the world have come together to respond to the challenges of the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami and COVID-19”. 

“As part of your Pacific family, Australia is proud to make this next contribution of up to AUD18 million in budget support to your Government to assist with the implementation of your priorities as you recover from the eruption and tsunami and respond to the challenges of COVID-19” said Her Excellency Rachael Moore.

“As Tonga strives to ensure continuity of services and increase the government’s capacity to support affected communities and the business community, Australia’s timely assistance and budget support of up to AUD18million will assist us implement the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai Volcanic Eruption and Tsunami Recovery plan and our COVID-19 response, including through assistance to the elderly and vulnerable, and to affected businesses” said the Minister for Finance, Hon. Tatafu Moeaki.

This funding was made available through the Australian Government’s development program and the Pacific COVID-19 Response Package. Announced in October 2020, the Response Package is a $304.7 million fund that has provided support to the Pacific and Timor-Leste to deliver temporary and targeted economic and fiscal assistance to address pandemic impacts, maintain essential health and other services, and protect the most vulnerable with a focus on women and girls.

Media enquiries may be directed to [email protected]


Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa



The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Minister for Health and Aged Care

Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja

Minister for International Development and the Pacific
Senator for the ACT

1 December 2021


Pacific kava farmers and producers will now have direct access to the Australian market under Phase Two of the Morrison Government’s Kava Pilot, recognising the significant cultural and economic importance kava has for Pacific communities.

From 1 December, producers will be able to apply to import kava for commercial purposes under the two-year pilot. The quantity of kava that can be imported for personal use has already been doubled from two kilograms to four kilograms under Phase One of the pilot. 

Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, said he saw firsthand the cultural and economic significance of kava to Pacific communities, including diaspora in Australia, during a recent visit to Fiji.

“Many businesses in Fiji and across the Pacific have been hit hard by COVID 19, so the excitement for the kava pilot was palpable,” Minister Seselja said.

“Through improved access, the pilot will provide greater cultural connection for Pacific diaspora in Australia, as well as a welcome economic boost for the agricultural sector and rural communities across the Pacific.”

“Supporting Pacific farmers’ access new international markets, like Australia, is a key pillar of Australia’s Pacific Step-up that will see stronger agricultural development and investment, translating into more and better jobs across the region.”

Pacific island communities form an essential part of Australian society. They will now have increased access to kava for ceremonial and cultural purposes.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the kava pilot will be strictly monitored and will comply with Australia’s high-quality importation and food standards.

“The Morrison Government will undertake robust monitoring and evaluation of the pilot, working closely with state and territories, recognising their regulatory role in the domestic supply and use of kava,” Minister Hunt said.

“It is important Pacific communities here in Australia stay connected to their culture, including access to kava for ceremonial and cultural use, while the Government ensures strong social, health, and cultural outcomes are protected across Australia.”

The Australian Government has commissioned the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales and Ninti One Limited, an Indigenous owned organisation, to undertake monitoring and evaluation of the pilot. At the end of the two-year period a report will include a recommendation on the future of kava imports to Australia.

Australian businesses can take part in the commercial kava pilot by applying for an import permit from the Department of Health - Application forms | Office of Drug Control (


Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa



30 September 2021

New Australian High Commissioner to Tonga, Rachael Moore, presents her   credentials to His Majesty King Tupou VI


On 29 September, Australia’s High Commissioner designate Rachael Moore presented her credentials to His Majesty King Tupou VI, formalising her appointment as the Australian High Commissioner to Tonga.

Australia and Tonga have a shared vision of a secure, prosperous and resilient Tonga. In her capacity has High Commissioner to Tonga, Her Excellency Rachael Moore will prioritise areas of mutual bilateral importance including health, economic recovery from COVID-19, security cooperation, climate change and disaster resilience, gender equality and social inclusion.

"The close and enduring relationship between Australia and Tonga is underpinned by deep historical and cultural ties. This year is the 51st year of diplomatic relations between our nations. My family and I are delighted to be here, and I look forward to building on the partnership between our two countries during my tenure." - HE Rachael Moore, Australian High Commissioner to Tonga

Media enquiries may be directed to [email protected]


Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa




12 August 2021

Australia supports Tongan businesses through Tonga’s Ministry of Trade and     Economic Development.

Australia remains committed to working alongside Tonga, through the economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A further AUD 5 million has been directed to support Tonga’s COVID-19 Business Recovery Assistance Program, which aims to improve the well-being and living standards of Tongans in the formal and informal business sectors.

This funding is part of the Australian Government’s AUD 304.7 million Pacific COVID-19 Response Package, specifically targeting Tonga’s tourism, agriculture, fisheries, retail and wholesale, and manufacturing industries. The COVID-19 Business Recovery Assistance Program is being delivered by Tonga’s Ministry of Trade and Economic Development (MTED) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

The Honourable Minister for Trade and Economic Development, Mr Tatafu Moeaki, acknowledges Australia’s support, stating that “… the depth and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic is now more certain.” The Tongan Government in response has included extended assistance to support business recovery including those in the informal sector. Honourable Moeaki believes that a resilient private sector will help minimise the negative impacts of the global pandemic.

Australia’s Acting High Commissioner, Mr Nicholas Murphy, sees this support as a necessary financing that will see assistance go directly to Tongan business owners, both formal and informal.

Through ongoing support and assistance measures, Australia is working alongside Tonga as it recovers from the pandemic with a focus on building together a bigger, brighter and more stable future for the region. 

Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa




8 August 2021

Second shipment of Australian-made AstraZeneca arrives in Tonga

Additional Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccines arrive in Tonga today, 10 August, as part of Australia's regional commitment to provide vital support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia had committed to providing 45,000 Australian-made AstraZeneca vaccines to Tonga this year. Today’s consignment of 10,000 doses enables Tonga to offer comprehensive coverage for the outer islands of Ha’apai and the Niuas. It supports efforts of an international coalition in Tonga including New Zealand and Japan, that is ensuring comprehensive national vaccine coverage by the end of 2021. This shipment follows the 9,000 Australian-manufactured doses which arrived on 20 July for the people of Vava’u.
“The arrival of these Australian made vaccines in Tonga today is one of the key solutions to a return to normal life, and to stemming the social and economic impact of the pandemic. With upcoming potential help from the people of New Zealand and Japan, with whom Australia has enjoyed helpful cooperation and collaboration on vaccine distribution, I see great opportunities for Tonga to meet its target of substantial community immunity before the end of 2021. This can give us all hope of resuming a more normal life and putting an end to several years of separation, restrictions, and sacrifice,” said Australia’s Acting Head of Mission Nicholas Murphy.  
In addition to the supply of vaccine doses, Australia has committed through the regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative (VAHSI), to provide AUD 2.3 million for the purchase waste management equipment, including a safe and environmentally friendly ‘Ecosteryl’ unit which produces less toxic emissions than traditional incinerator units and limits waste by-products by up to 80%. This will be the first Ecosteryl unit in use in Tonga, and the second for the Pacific. Through VAHSI, Australia has also offered technical advice to Tonga from some of the world's leading immunisation experts via Australia's Therapeutic Goods Association and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance to support Tonga’s overall COVID-19 response and vaccine campaigns.
In 2020, Australia had also supported Tonga with pandemic preparedness including through the provision of GeneExpert and PCR testing equipment, PPE and the purchase of additional supplies through an additional AUD 1 million in COVID support through the Tonga Health Systems Support Program.
This assistance package is in addition to Australia's AUD 130 million contribution to the COVAX Facility's Advance Market Commitment, of which Tonga is an eligible country. Through COVAX, 48,000 vaccines have arrived in Tonga to since 31 March 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of a coordinated regional vaccination effort to protect the health and safety of Australia’s Pacific neighbours.
Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa



20 July 2021

9,000 Australian-made AstraZeneca vaccine doses arrived in Tonga.

The Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccines arrived from Australia on 20 July (today) as part of Australia's commitment to Tonga and the region to provide vital support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia is pleased to advise that these doses will be used to vaccinate vulnerable peoples in the island of Vava’u.

Australia's sharing of vaccines with the Pacific and Timor-Leste is part of our broader partnership response to the virus. "Australia is proud to stand by the people of Tonga and the region to fight this global crisis," said Australian acting Head of Mission Nicholas Murphy at a ceremony held to celebrate the arrival of the doses and their handover from Australia to Tonga.
"The arrival of the Australian-made vaccine in Tonga today is one of the key solutions to stem the social and economic impact of the pandemic. This is why Australia is so proud to be sharing its precious resources with Tonga. It is a scientifically sound thing to do, and it is the act of a good neighbour and friend," Mr Murphy ended.  
This week's delivery to Tonga, and others in the Pacific, brings the total number of vaccines shared from Australia across the Pacific and Timor-Leste to almost 750,000.
In addition, through the regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative (the Intitative), Australia has committed AUD 2.3 million to purchase waste management equipment, including an environmentally friendlier Ecosteryl unit which does not produce greenhouse gases and toxic emissions like the traditional incincerator units. This will be the first Ecosteryl unit in use in Tonga, and the second for the Pacific. Through the Initiative,  technical advice from some of the world's leading immunisation experts via Australia's Therapeutic Goods Association and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance is also available to support Tonga’s COVID-19 response and vaccine campaigns.   
Australia has also supported the provision of GeneExpert and PCR testing equipment, PPE and the purchase of additional supplies through an additional AUD 1 million in COVID support through our Health Systems Support program.   
This assistance comes on top of Australia's AUD130 million contribution to the COVAX Facility's Advance Market Commitment, of which Tonga is a an eligible country. Through COVAX 48,000 vaccines have arrived in Tonga to date.
Australia congratulates the Tongan Ministry of Health on its success in avoiding community transmissions of COVID-19. It is evident, that despite this, Tonga is being impacted by the pandemic, and the vaccine is a crucial part of our collective recovery.
Australian High Commission, Nuku’alofa
Salote Rd, Nuku’alofa