Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will hold a media conference this afternoon to address New Zealand’s response to the crisis in Tonga.
In a post on her Facebook page, Ardern said images of the volcanic eruption were “hugely concerning”.
She said communication as a result of the eruption had been difficult but the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were working to establish what what needed and how to help.
More information would be provided during the media conference at 3pm, she said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there were no official reports of deaths or injuries in Tonga, however communication remained limited.
New Zealand’s High Commission in Nuku’alofa is in contact with local authorities and said damage assessments were underway.
An NZDF P3 Orion is on standby to fly over the area once atmospheric conditions allow.
There are currently 30 New Zealanders registered as being in Tonga.
Alerts in place for New Zealand
The west coast of the South Island has been included in a warning about dangerous sea conditions as a result of the volcanic eruption in Tonga.
The National Emergency Management Agency this morning said that coastal areas on the north and east coast of the North Island are expected to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore.
It said the conditions were dangerous for swimmers, surfers, people fishing, small boats and anyone in or near the water close to the shore.
The agency later also added the west coast of the South Island and the Chatham Islands to the advisory area.
It comes after a tsunami hit Tonga when underwater volcano Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai erupted for eight minutes, throwing clouds of ash into the sky, yesterday afternoon.
Waves flooded the capital Nuku’alofa, where video footage has shown water engulfing buildings.
The eruptions have been heard as booms or ‘thumps’ across the Pacific, in Fiji, Niue, Vanuatu, and in New Zealand.
RNZ listeners from Northland, to Wānaka in Central Otago have reported hearing what sounded like gunshots, loud bangs, or sonic booms.
Tsunami waves reported around the world
Meanwhile, the United States and Japan are warning people on their Pacific coastlines to stay away from the shore because of tsunami waves from the Tongan eruption.
Japan has warned of waves as high as three metres, and waves of 1.2 metres hit the south of the country.
The US warned of strong currents and waves, and coastal flooding.
The National Weather Service for Alaska also confirmed they had heard the eruption.
SOURCE: RNZ NEWS