Tonga: 2003 - 2004, 2006

(left to right) Captain Regan McMillan, Senior National Officer Lieutenant Colonel Darren Beck and Major Ve'ehala Tongan Acting Land Componant Commander on arrival at Fua'amotu Airport.

Tongan Riots

A 72-strong contingent of NZDF personnel were sent to Tonga on 18 November 2006, at the request of the Tongan Government.

A demonstration by pro-democracy protestors in Nuku'alofa on 16 November had turned violent, leaving much of the capital gutted by rioting and fire.  Newspapers reported up to eight people were killed.

The first task for the Kiwis was to work alongside the Australian and Tongan services to set up a base of operations and re-open the airport for civilian flights. The NZDF contingent was supported by NZ Police and personnel from a variety of other Government agencies. More than 80 Australian military personnel are involved in the NZ-led combined task force.

The airport was re-opened on 19 November and the first civilian flights out of Tonga resumed on 20 November.

The combined task force carried on supporting the Tongan Defence Services and carrying out limited security patrols to restore calm, and the Kiwis were able to return home on 2 December.