NZDF contingent to withdraw from Tonga

  • Gerry Brownlee
  • Mark Mitchell
Defence Foreign Affairs

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell have announced that the Government has decided to bring home the group of New Zealand SAS troops in Tonga for a jungle training exercise as soon as possible.

"Rather than continuing on to do their scheduled training exercise we've concluded this is a time for Tonga to have some clear air, uncomplicated by the coincidental presence of NZDF personnel in the country," Mr Brownlee says.

"Tonga is clearly in a process of political transition and it's best we leave them to manage that without the added complication of a military training exercise going on.

"King Tupou VI has exercised his constitutional right to dissolve Parliament and we look forward to learning more in the days ahead about Tonga's plans for governance ahead of November's elections."

Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says that given the dissolution of government, it is prudent to withdraw from Tonga and carry out the joint training with Tonga at another time.

“The relationship between the NZ Defence Force and the Royal Tongan Defence Force remains strong," Mr Mitchell says.

“This is an annual exercise, with the planning for this year’s event done in November last year, and we will reschedule it for a more suitable time in the future."