VIDEO: Govt ready to go to help Tonga - Ardern

7:54 am on 13 February 2018

The New Zealand government has pledged an initial $50,000 to help rescue and relief operations in cyclone-battered Tonga.

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      Ms Ardern told Morning Report there would be no hold up in sending help to Tonga.

      "We're ready to go with whatever needs we may be faced with. The Defence Force plane is ready to go, we have equipment at the ready to make sure that we could provide safe drinking water, shelter."

      "It's just a matter of hearing from the Tongan government what their needs are and we'll be ready to deploy."

      Emergency relief would not be stalled by "having bureaucracy in the way", she said.

      "It's fair to say we see ourselves as having a huge responsibility here - New Zealand has, in these situations in the past. For us it's just a matter of making sure we meet the need at the same time."

      New Zealand responded to Cyclone Winston two years ago with one of the country's largest peacetime military deployments to the Pacific.

      It sent close to 500 personnel, and two ships and six aircraft were involved in delivering hundreds of tonnes of aid at a cost of more than $15 million.

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