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HMAF continue close relations with the Australian and NZ Defence Forces

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 29/01/2020

His Majesty’s Armed Forces are looking forward to further strengthening their relations with the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces through several programs planned for this year.

On Monday the Australian Chief of The Defence Force – General Angus Campbell and the New Zealand Chief of Defence Force – Air Marshal Kevin Short met with His Majesty’s Armed Forces Chief of Defense Staff – Brigadier Lord Fielakepa to discuss the relationship between HMAF and Australia and New Zealand’s Defence forces including programs to collaborate on in future.

In an interview with the Chief of Defense Staff of His Majesty’s Armed Forces – Brigadier Lord Fielakepa said the meeting with his Australian and New Zealand counterparts went very well and they were able to discuss projects under their collaborations that are about to be completed this year and other projects they are looking to begin.

Brigadier Lord Fielakepa said HMAF is expecting a second patrol boat from the Australian Defence Force by the end of the year but throughout the year they will be completing a project at the Masefield Naval Base and at the same time, looking to begin work on a military base at Fangatongo in Vava’u which is estimated be a 5 year project. He said the Deputy Police Commissioner was also given an opportunity under the close partnership between Tonga and New Zealand which also includes opportunities for further studies in trades

The Chief of Defense Staff said education was a main focus for the support from the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces with several members of HMAF receiving scholarships to study in key fields such as in carpentry, engineering, as well as in marine engineering.

HMAF and the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces have a long history of close partnership and cooperation beginning around WWII and up until now HMAF are still benefitting from these partnerships.

Brigadier Lord Fielakepa says the projects and other programs HMAF and the Defence Forces of Australia and New Zealand work together on, contribute to the improvement of HMAF in areas such as maritime security and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, which is particularly important for Tonga, a nation vulnerable to natural disasters like tropical cyclones.

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