Also known as 'The Friendly Islands', the Kingdom of Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific, surrounded by vast stretches of ocean through which its island neighbours lie scattered. The closest developed country is New Zealand, three hours’ flight to the south west. Tonga’s economy is vulnerable, and dependent upon tourism, agriculture and remittances from Tongans working overseas.

Tonga's isolation and small population create numerous economic difficulties including high transport costs and limited markets. Unemployment is particularly high in rural areas, where 70 percent of the population live and rely upon agriculture (predominantly yam, taro and sweet potato) and fishing. Migration to New Zealand, Australia and the US leaves skills shortages. Wealth remains unevenly distributed.

Oxfam in Tonga

Oxfam New Zealand has been strengthening its presence in Tonga over the last few years, working with Tonga National Youth Congress to improve people's livelihoods.

Improving livelihoods

  • Virgin coconut oil
    Oxfam is working with local partner the Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC) to support rural communities through the production of virgin coconut oil.
  • Helping farmers flourish
    A revival of organic agriculture is generating higher returns for farmers
  • Planting the seeds of change
    Two groups of women in Tongatapu have taken their first steps into the world of market gardening, earning their own money for the first time in their lives.
  • Coconut creations
    Malina Hautau’s entrepreneurial eye spotted an opportunity to turn a waste product into a source of income.
  • Coconut oil partnership flourishes
    The partnership between Tauranga-based Heilala Vanilla and the Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC) is strengthening the vitality of Tongan villages and building economic independence for young people.

Tonga profile

Our partner in Tonga

  • Tonga National Youth Congress
    Oxfam has forged a close relationship with the Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC). The TNYC was established in 1991 as an umbrella body to represent and project the voice of young people in the Kingdom.

Oxfam Unwrapped in Tonga

By buying a gift from Oxfam Unwrapped you can help support our livelihoods work in Tonga. Take a look at Oxfam Unwrapped's gifts with a difference and help lift people out of poverty, for good.