We need to talk about Tonga


It is thankful that not more lives have been lost and that NZ has already donated $3m.

But we can’t be under any illusions that the death toll may rise sharply or that vast money will be required.

The true scale of the devastation isn’t quantifiable yet but the magnitude of what lies ahead can’t be dismissed.

This has been a once in a thousand year eruption and the science tells us that these can continue for months so this disruption may only be starting.

The immediate threat is fresh water and contamination of the entire agricultural industry.

The downstream effects of acid rain and ash pollution will be enormous and stretching.

We need to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge this is going to be an enormous task and we are going to have to view far larger donations and ongoing support.

I often argue that the climate crisis will demand of us a far greater expenditure on the military – this civil defence emergency requiring our military is the exact point I’m making.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

We are going to have to accept a far larger aid cost to our Tongan brothers and sisters and we need to start by offering all Tongan overstayers immediate amnesty in NZ and stop all immigration uplifts to Tonga.

This is family and we have an obligation to step up to help them from this incredible natural disaster.

I don’t think we have a true picture of the damage yet.

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  1. Also in the frame is China, who will be looking to use debt diplomacy to increase its foothold in the Pacific and push the West out.

    • debt diplomacy is nothing new..the west and the soviets used it in the cold war(see adam curtis) hell WE use it everytime aid is tied to buying NZ goods or services, we can’t outspend china….suggestions?
      force them into the kind of arms race that despite tom hanks didn’t bring the ussr down, and will fuck NZ forever with the aforementioned ‘debt diplomacy’ as a vassal of the US and oz…..is that the plan?

      • Yes Aotearoa is culpable of all of this sort of stuff. Don’t forget the NZ government forcing some of the Pacific islands to pay for mutton flaps, the most disgusting food we would not eat, but ok for our Pacific whanau.

  2. I think we go the whole way with not Just a security, intelligence and military arrangement where we run South Pacific non commissioned and commissioned officers through kiwi Officer training courses, police and fire and medical and so on to.

    But we go all the way with trade pacts, uni, fiscal unions, cheap loans of our own, not China cheap but if the south Pacific wants to own and operate businesses in NZ with the correct climate! Then I want to set up shop in the islands too.

    We don’t just need a strong military, we need a big, strong South Pacific Union with ferries and feeder ships and food and amenities and security of our own.

    • Sam South Pacific Union holding hands, that sort of diversity and unity finding a practical but humanitarian glue is what we need for sure.

  3. considering the fortune we spend on tonga (and other undemocratic pacific nations) why don’t they have disaster planning and resources in place ready to go? it’s not unknown in their neck of the woods is it.
    Now much as I feel for the people of tonga their govt frankly are a bunch of corrupt chancers living of the backs of the people(hang on maybe they are a democracy after all)…buy a 2nd hand field hospital etc etc etc next time the king fancies a new SUV.

    • “disaster planning… ready to go” ????


      NASA researchers have an estimate of the power of a massive volcanic eruption that took place on Saturday near the island nation of Tonga.

      “We come up with a number that’s around 10 megatons of TNT equivalent,” James Garvin, the chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told NPR.

      That means the explosive force was more than 500 times as powerful as the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II.

      The blast was heard as far away as Alaska and was probably one of the loudest events to occur on Earth in over a century, according to Michael Poland, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

      500x more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb.
      Disaster planning for it? On a tiny, fragile group of islands?
      You are not making good sense.

      • what are the actual issues, power, communication, food and health all contingencies a govt especially in an isolated area should prepare for, would it cover everything? probably not, would it help deffo, if your only plan is waiting for the ‘white knight’ so be it, in the meantime get the king to realise some of his overseas assets…

        • So, Taupo blows up again:

          “The Taupo Eruption was the most violent eruption known in the world in the last 5000 years. The eruption plume reached 50km into the air, well into the stratosphere. All of New Zealand received at least 1cm of ash, with areas near the lake being buried in more than 100 metres of pyroclastic flow. This scorching hot flow spread up to 90 km from the vent and covered all local features except Ruapehu. it is possible that ash from this eruption was the cause of red sunsets recorded by the Romans and Chinese at that time.”

          No worries mate!!!
          Gagga says, “Just sell your properties!! .. those you have stashed else where! Yep – that’ll fix it!”


    • Agreed. If the Tongan royal family were to sell just one quarter of their vast land holdings at their Landscape Road, Auckland compound (possibly the most valuable private residential property holding in New Zealand), they could easily afford to cover all the costs of this disaster for their subjects, and the next ten that come after it.

      • The costs are immeasurable.
        Cashing in whatever property?
        – would be like flying over Whakaari and dropping in a chiller bag of ice cubes.

        • so once again people oppressed by corrupt leaders are bailed out..cuz

          well yea letting people die is evil so we must help but stealing resources and denying your people a backstop is just as evil, if the main issue CORRUPTION isn’t fixed this will wash and rise from now on, climate change is a thing and preparation is more important than the kings diamond encrusted skiddies.

          and actually NZs disaster preparedness is pretty armature hour too.

  4. Immediately accept 1500 Tongans under our refugee quote.
    Clear up the pathway to citizenship for Pacific nations, with minimum requirements, such as, 2 years in the Army/Navy/Air force, or NCEA Level 2..no criminal convictions.
    HOWEVER, after experiencing
    thousands Tongann rugby league fans damaging South Auckland neighbourhoods during the rugby league world cup…NO to overstayers, they, the overstayers caused much of the damage a cording to the arrest records of the hundreds of arrests

    • and that would help us and them exactly how?
      move them to the most expensive groceries in the world(possibly) pay them next to nothing, no housing or are you suggesting they are only fit to live in garages and gang culture the only way to better yourself if your lucky enough to be plucked up as a potential trainee apprentice citizen pets of nate, I’m sure he can find some nice low paying job and a slum to live in…yup sounds like a plan to me…a shit one, but a plan..

      reality on the ground mate.

  5. we need to start by offering all Tongan overstayers immediate amnesty in NZ and stop all immigration uplifts to Tonga.

    It’s to our shame that we still do that!
    Absolutely it needs to end.
    Also of any other island overstayers – the acid rain is likely to affect all of them, – not to mention climate change with its ever more violent storms and rising tides.
    We are family – Yes.

  6. How many Tongans actually live in the Islands of Tonga anyway? Most live in NZ, primarily in Auckland? I’m sure China could help to rebuild Tonga, they do have the means to fund & do huge infrastructure projects, NZ certainly can’t afford it & America can only provide WMD’s & guns so their bloody hopeless & Australia is broke & too busy buying obsolete US AUKUS Submarines!

    • Yes China could help to house Tongan homeless, Tuvaluans with flooded atoll, Auckland homeless, Syrian boat people on the Mediteranean, starving homeless Afghanis. Use the 65million empty apartments in their thousands of ghost towns to house their brother humans, caring communism at its finest.

  7. I sympathize with the nation of Tonga in this tragedy and see in it the opportunity to bring us all under one umbrella … Australia .. New Zealand .. the Pacific Nations including Fiji, Tonga & Samoa. This is long overdue. As commentators so frequently point out, a lot of Tongans already live in New Zealand. Australia and New Zealand have reciprocal agreements so that Australians can live, work and travel in New Zealand for as long as they wish, and vice versa. How long will we point at our differences and gloss over our similarities? Efforts should be made by the governments of the respective nations to unite us as one, call us The Pacific, Oceania, whatever, as long as we are brought closer together.

  8. My 3 trips to Tonga showed a very happy people living 3rd world. Very few houses would get anywhere near building codes, most cars are wrecks on pot holed dirt roads. That’s Nukualofa the capital. It goes downhill from there. But lovely people who are used to cyclone damage and rebuilding their shacks. Supply them with lots of timber, nails and corr. iron and they will rebuild again, sans code.

      • Yes the King is like most other kings – a leech.
        Pkts of timber and iron do actually make it to site. Just don’t send cash.

        • Cash is far and away the best thing for individual New Zealanders to donate. If it gets to Tongan families, they are in the best possible situation to decide on what they need the most and then they can buy it.

  9. 100% agree. A revamped navy is in order for precisely these sorts of events. As is greater expenditure on long range air force capacity. Primarily we are a maritime country and a well equipped navy is what we need to patrol our fisheries and provide disaster relief within our sphere of influence which is the south pacific, – not Asia. Even our army should not be left out as a defensive force with boots on the ground. Not to mention the careers and training these services would provide. When we look at Europe, many of those nations still have compulsory military training,… I don’t advocate for that, but certainly advertising and making a viable career in the services attractive enough and ‘normalized’ as a viable career future. Basically, making it high profile .

    We , because of our anti nuke stance, have been snubbed by the old ANZUS agreement partners, its time we stood up, grew up and pushed ahead with our own licks instead of being so vulnerable and reliant on others,- which also, – pushes us into their confrontations.

    As for Tonga, – we should be in there boots and all. Like you say, we are family and there’s going to be much ahead for the Tongan people. Water, food, temporary shelter, medical supplies esp for those with respiratory issues and chronic illness,… all of which will be ongoing past the clean up stage if that volcano keeps on being active for a long time.

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