By Lydia Lewis, RNZ
A global aid effort is underway to help Tonga in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption and tsunami, with vessels en route to the tiny island nation from Australia, the UK, Japan and the US.
NZDF Maritime Component Commander Commodore Garin Golding told RNZ Pacific nearby Fiji was also assisting in the relief efforts.
"Fiji is assisting Tonga, they are providing land forces which are going to be embarked on the Adelaide," he said.
Three New Zealand Navy vessels have departed already and a second C-130 Hercules dropped aid off yesterday.
The HMNZS Canterbury set sail for Tonga on Friday night, the latest to assist with the aid effort.
The ship has two NH90 helicopters, personnel and supplies onboard.
"On board the HMNZS Canterbury is water, milk powder and tarpaulins, but due to her size they have also embarked vehicles and forklifts, which are needed to help distribute aid around the airport and port," Golding said.
"We have also embarked an engineer task force and they can help purify water."
The HMNZS Wellington and Aotearoa are already in Tonga.
Golding said the team onboard the Aotearoa had successfully offloaded five containers of stores and spent Saturday offloading bulk water supplies to be distributed across the island.
"They will be doing that today right through to early next week," Golding said.
"The HMNZS Wellington sailed overnight [Friday], they received another survey task to the island Eua, which is the south east of Tongatapu. They will spend the whole day using their hydrographic and diving personnel just to verify that it is safe for shipping to go in and out."
Wellington was set to return to Nuku'alofa to continue the survey task, with Aotearoa to stay alongside to continue to offload water supplies.
The Royal Australian Navy is supporting the effort too, while HMNZS Adelaide is on its way.
"My understanding is, in addition to the three ships we will have, [the] Adelaide from Australia, the [Royal Navy ship HMS] Spey from the UK and the US already has the Sampson [there] and a coast guard vessel is on its way down. I understand a Japanese vessel is on route. I have no information with respects to China," Commander Commodore Garin Golding said.
The Tongan government has requested Covid-19 measures be observed during the effort and Golding said that was a major focus of the team.
"We will be receiving tasks from the Tongan government and we will be responsive to whatever these tasks are."