A multinational task group led by New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel will be undertaking community projects to improve water storage and sanitation in Tonga as part of a humanitarian activity focused on disaster relief operations.
CAPTION: Tropic Twilight 2016 – from left, Flying Officer Chloe Lowndes RAAF, SPC Hustin Trusso, USA Guam Army, SPR Jared Humphries, NZ Army and Cadet Lui Jian Bang, China.
Exercise Tropic Twilight 2016 is a recurring activity that will be conducted this year in Tonga’s Ha’apai group of islands from 7-29 July. New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is funding the projects being delivered as part of the New Zealand Aid Programme.
The humanitarian activity also involves military personnel from Tonga, the United States, China, France and Australia.
“The Ha’apai island group suffered greatly during Cyclone Ian in 2014. Two years on, there are still a number of projects that can be undertaken to bring relief to the local people,” said Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Josh Wineera, Senior National Officer for the NZDF contingent.
LTCOL Wineera said 10,000-litre water storage tanks will be installed at churches, the fire station and city hall in Pangai, the administrative capital of the Ha’apai island group. A toilet consisting of three cubicles for women and two for men will also be built near the Pangai Ferry Terminal, a high-traffic location.
“Both projects will be of tremendous benefit to the community. The water tanks will enable them to increase the amount of potable water they store to about 50,000 litres. The new public toilets will also improve sanitation as the toilets in the nearby fish market were damaged by the cyclone,” LTCOL Wineera said.
An environmental health team will carry out a mosquito eradication programme to reduce diseases such as dengue and zika. Small-scale dental training will also be provided.
“Tropic Twilight demonstrates New Zealand’s continuing commitment in the Pacific region. It is also a fresh opportunity to work with our Tongan and other international partners and strengthen those relationships that will help us work better in the future,” said Major General (MAJGEN) Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.
About 60 NZDF personnel, nearly half of whom are engineers and trades people from the New Zealand Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment, will be working alongside military engineers from His Majesty’s Armed Forces Tonga, the People’s Liberation Army and the United States Army.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force and the FANC (Forces armees de Nouvelle-Caledonie) will also contribute key capabilities in support of Tropic Twilight. The NZDF contingent includes medical, dental and logistics specialists..