Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Health and Pacific Peoples Minister Dr. Shane Reti reaffirmed New Zealand’s ongoing support for Tonga’s health sector at the opening of its new Pharmaceutical & Medical Facility in Veitongo today as part of the five day Pacific Mission 2024 travelling to Tonga, Cook Islands and Samoa.
Dr. Shane Reti says, “This project is a testament to the strong and enduring relationship between our countries’ health systems and highlights the critical difference we can make in people’s lives through cooperation.”
NZ has contributed $2.4 million to the construction of the new central pharmacy warehouse.
The new facility will play a crucial role in storing and distributing pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and other items needed for healthcare providers in Tonga.
Earlier this morning Mr Peters and the Kingdom of Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu spoke with media in a joint press conference at the St George government building after the conclusion of bi -lateral talks between the countries government officials.
Deputy Prime Minister Vaipulu paid tribute to Mr Peters for his long standing relationship with the Kingdom and acknowledged the role Mr Peters has played in the Pacific region and his commitment to the Pacific reset he led as Foreign Affairs Minister as part of the Labour led government in 2018.
“The Pacific and New Zealand are linked, bound by a shared history and culture of the Kainga/family,” says Vaipulu.
A wide range of issues were discussed which included climate change, economic development, education, justice and health.
During the talks, Tonga’s government has asked New Zealand for support for a second cable, (the country has the Tonga-Fiji Submarine cable system known as the Tonga Cable that links Nuku’alofa, Tongan and Suva Fiji and connects with the Southern Cross Cable network). They have also asked for support with the ongoing rebuild of the country’s parliament buildings and help to build a new court house.
Mr Peters said the talks were helpful and reassured the Tongan government that New Zealand would continue to support the region. He added that the aim of the Pacific rest of 2018 continues to be relevant in 2024. He also said New Zealand would support Tonga as they prepare to host the upcoming Pacific Leaders forum to be held in August.
Local Tongan media raised questions around concerns of retaining staff within the health and education sector.
While Mr Peters acknowledged that New Zealand is also faced with the same issues, he implored on the Tongan people like New Zealanders to invest in their respective countries.
“We do realise the problem we need solutions in NZ and Tonga.”
Mr Peters added that NZ is looking to expand the scholarship programme for the region. The delegation will travel to Cook Islands and then onto Samoa.