High winds and low politics
Dr Teena Pulu Brown, who grew up in the Friendly Islands and today works at AUT University in Auckland, has published an angry and meticulous essay about the ways in which both the New Zealand government and Tongan leaders are playing politics with the suffering of cyclone victims in Tonga.
Like Australia and the US, New Zealand is uneasy at the influence of China over Tonga, and is prepared to use aid, or the absence of aid, to drag Tonga away from the Beijing camp. Brown cites my blog post, 'Letting down the Family', when she discusses the cynical underfunding of disaster relief by our government:
Some New Zealand academics were quick to interpret the real politick at play. Pakeha (white/European) sociologist Scott Hamilton did not hold fire: New Zealand government was straight-up stingy...Tonga’s attention on China as its closest friend and development partner turned New Zealand icy. Hamilton thought New Zealand’s foreign minister Murray McCully was still sore with Tonga’s deputy prime minister Samiu Vaipulu getting his government a gifted plane from China (Hamilton, 2014).
The problem with Vaipulu’s plane was that it put Tonga’s domestic flight service, a New Zealand company called Chathams Pacific, out of business. Chathams said it could not compete with a Tongan government plane flown by a Tongan company, and so packed up and went home, complaining it was hard done by. Of course McCully retaliated because he could. He held the NZAID purse strings.
You can read Teena Pulu Brown's essay in full here.