Navy Chaplain Simote Finau delivered devotional prayers on Radio Tonga while deployed on Operation Tonga Assist 2022.

The Tonga-born chaplain spoke live on air for 30 minutes via mobile phone from the bridge of HMAS Adelaide while the landing helicopter dock was anchored three nautical miles off the capital Nuku’alofa before its departure..

“It was a very special moment for me – a blessing from God,” Chaplain Finau said.

“I asked God to look after Tonga during this difficult time.”

Adelaide arrived in Tonga on Australia Day, supporting defence’s contribution to a whole-of-government response to the undersea volcanic eruption and tsunami on January 15.

Chaplain Finau’s broadcast respectfully acknowledged Tonga’s King Tupou VI and senior members of the royal family, including Tonga’s High Commissioner to Australia, Princess Lātūfuipeka.

The broadcast was heard around the archipelago, from Nuku’alofa to the chaplain’s birthplace of Fotuha’a in the Ha’apai group of islands in central Tonga.

Radio Tonga manager Viola Ulakai, who introduced the segment, received a series of text messages from listeners who recognised the chaplain’s name and voice.

Chaplain Finau’s stepbrother, Church of Tonga president Reverend Doctor Tu’ipulotu Katoanga, called after the segment to congratulate him.

“He thanked God for the spirit he felt when he was listening. He assured me it would have been the same feeling among the people of Tonga,” Chaplain Finau said.

The chaplain said he was privileged to be part of an operation assisting his homeland.

Adelaide delivered more than 250 pallets of humanitarian and disaster relief stores during its deployment, and its embarked Australian Defence Force and Republic of Fiji Military Forces personnel worked side-by-side to support clean-up efforts on Atata Island. 

More photographs of Operation Tonga Assist 2022 can be viewed on the Defence image gallery.