PM Sovaleni sends message to Tongan community in Ardern call

Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shared a phone message from Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni directed at the Tongan community in New Zealand.

In a Facebook post, Ardern said she called Sovaleni on Thursday night to discuss ongoing relief efforts.

The two leaders discussed resolving communication issues with the islands and the arrival of navy relief from New Zealand.

"As we spoke he described to me that they could see the HMNZS Wellington pulling into port," Ardern wrote. "It was such a relief to know that our first navy vessel had arrived to support relief efforts."

The call was the first time that Ardern had spoken with her Sovaleni following the tsunami that hit last Saturday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"We spoke a lot about the communication issues, and I shared all the love and concern people had conveyed to Tonga over the past days.

"But rather than pass on a message, I asked if there was anything the Prime Minister wished to share directly with the Tongan community here in New Zealand, which I could record on my phone."

In the call, Sovaleni thanked Tongan New Zealanders for their prayers and well-wishes.

"I praise God for his mercy and for keeping us safe so that we are able to be here this blessed day. I thank you all for your prayers during this challenging time.

"I hope you will be able to connect with your own families and friends in the near future. Lots of love, Hu'akavameiliku," he said, using his chiefly title.

Aid and supplies from New Zealand are beginning to arrive in Tonga, with the first Defence Force plane touching down on Thursday afternoon. Two navy ships are also currently en route to the country.