New Zealand Aid Programme allocated funding

New Zealand Aid Programme transparency


  • The Kingdom of Tonga lies north of New Zealand near Fiji and Samoa. There are approximately 170 islands mainly based on coral and distributed across a large sea area.
  • The 36 inhabited islands support a population of about 110,000, with 70 percent living on the main island of Tongatapu.
  • The rest of the population is spread across the four island groups of Vava'u, Ha'apai, ‘Eua and the Niuas.
  • Unique in the Pacific, Tonga is the only country with a constitutional monarchy. Tonga has undergone an historic and fundamental change from an executive monarchy to a modern parliamentary democracy. The first democratic elections were held in November 2010.

Development challenges

Tonga has made good progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, with relatively high levels of life expectancy and universal access to basic education. However, the country has significant development challenges.

  • A number of challenges face Tonga’s economic development, including Tonga’s small domestic market, skill shortages, high cost of power and variable domestic transport services, low savings rates, high costs of doing business and high youth unemployment.
  • Despite universal access to basic education, inequities exist in the quality of education. This is particularly prevalent in the secondary system where there is a distinct disparity between government and non-government providers.
  • The country is vulnerable to natural disasters.

New Zealand Aid Programme activities

New Zealand has allocated NZ$51 million of development support for the Tonga bilateral programme over the 2009/10 to 2011/12 period. In addition, New Zealand provides assistance to Tonga through a range of Pacific regional funding schemes.  

New Zealand signed a Joint Commitment for Development(PDF 139KB) with the Government of Tonga in July 2011.  This Commitment references increased support for sustainable economic development activities, while focussing on the specific development challenges in Tonga and the strategic direction outlined in Tonga's 'Strategic Development Framework 2011-2014'.

Key Sector Priorities

The Joint Commitment for Development(PDF 139KBB) provides a framework for underlining New Zealand and Tonga's commitment to 6 priority sectors:

  • energy
  • small to medium enterprise development
  • tourism
  • education and training
  • police
  • budget support

Key activities

Energy: Supporting the Tongan Government implement the Tonga Energy Roadmap, including investing NZ$6 million over the next 3 years to upgrade the village and peri-urban power distribution network on Tongatapu and NZ$7.9m in a solar power plant.

Tourism: Increasing the tourism industry's contribution to the economy via a flagship 3 year, NZ$4.5 million tourism support programme, as well as upgrading the runway and terminal on the island of 'Eua.

Private sector development: Supporting the private sector through the establishment of the Tonga Business Enterprise Centre, private sector training, business advisory support and the Pacific Business Mentoring Programme.

Police: Building confidence in the Tonga Police via New Zealand's NZ$7.5 million Tonga Police Development Programme which aims to improve infrastructure, resources and skills capability.

Education and skills training: Investing up to NZ$15 million to support basic education over the next five years, as well as a NZ$4 million technical and vocational skills programme (both joint programmes with Australia) and short-term scholarships to address skills shortages.

Budget support: Providing financial resources together with other donors, to assist the Government address budgetary pressures.

Tonga Tourism Support Programme

The tourism sector in Tonga has considerable potential and New Zealand is committed to supporting the public and private sectors to boost economic growth through increasing income and generating jobs. The Tonga Tourism Support Programme (TTSP) is worth NZ$4.5 million over 3 years and is being delivered by both the public and private sector.

The components of the TTSP include:

  • implementing a national destination marketing plan
  • raising accommodation standards
  • developing and managing key heritage and cultural sites
  • building research capacity
  • supporting local tourism initiatives
  • supporting private sector coordination.

Tonga Police Programme

Established in 2008, the Tonga Police Development Programme aims to increase public trust and confidence in the Tongan Police. The programme is a partnership between the governments of New Zealand, Australia, and Tonga and includes a strong in-country advisory presence from New Zealand Police.

The programme focuses on:

  • community policing, including accessibility to essential equipment such as vehicles
  • resource and operational capacity building
  • legislative and policy reform
  • infrastructure such as community police stations
  • information technology improvements such as radio communications.

Supporting quality education

Since 2005 New Zealand has supported the Tonga Education Sector Support Programme, a partnership between the Government of Tonga, New Zealand and the World Bank. In 2010/11, Australia replaced the World Bank the programme. The key goal of the programme is to ensure that all children have access to quality education.

The programme has focused on improving the standard of primary education by laying the foundations for improved learning achievement through the development of a new primary school curriculum and a professional development framework for teachers. This culminated in 2011 with the nationwide delivery of an updated curriculum, learning and teaching materials for all primary school years in the four core subjects (Tongan, English, maths and science). Minimum service standards ensure all primary schools are delivering an equitable standard of education were also introduced. 

The next phase of support will build on this foundation with a focus on further curriculum development in the the primary and secondary sector, improved teacher training, and better managed and equipped schools.

A number of scholarships are provided each year to New Zealand, Tonga and Pacific regional institutions to help school-leavers obtain tertiary qualifications.