About Tonga

Tonga is a small archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean.  It is home to around 108,000 people who live on 36 of the country's 170 islands.   Tonga’s total land area is dispersed between latitudes 15° and 23° S and longitudes 173° and 177° W.  

Tonga is the only Pacific country with a constitutional monarchy – it is known officially as the Kingdom of Tonga.  In 2010, Tonga made an historic and fundamental change from an executive monarchy to a modern parliamentary democracy, holding its first fully democratic elections in November that year.

Our relationship

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In June, 1970, Tonga ceased to be a protected state by the United Kingdom. That same year, New Zealand and Tonga established diplomatic relations. Initially, New Zealand was accredited to Tonga from its high commission in Apia, Samoa. In 1974, New Zealand opened a resident high commission in Nuku'alofa.

Our relationship is underpinned by the large number of New Zealanders of Tongan descent living in New Zealand, and Tongans with connections to New Zealand. Tongan New Zealanders contribute to both countries across all facets of society, including the arts, sports, business, politics, the media and academia.

Defence partnership

Tonga is New Zealand's key defence partner in Polynesia, dating back to World War I, when Tongan citizens served in the Māori and Regular Battalions in the New Zealand Army. More recently, both countries took part in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

We also share a sea boundary with Tonga, and have shared interests in border security, climate change, and regional security.


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