Dr Shane Reti makes urgent plea to Elon Musk to help with Tonga's telecommunication issues

National MP Dr Shane Reti has asked Elon Musk to help with Tonga's communication issues.
National MP Dr Shane Reti has asked Elon Musk to help with Tonga's communication issues. Photo credit: Getty Images

Dr Shane Reti has sent an impassioned plea to the world's richest man, asking him to help get Tonga back online after the country's telecommunication system was damaged in a volcanic eruption. 

Tonga's communication has largely been cut off from the rest of the world since the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, located about 65km north of Nuku'alofa, erupted on Saturday. 

The eruption caused widespread damage and covered Tonga and surrounding islands in ash. It also caused a 1.2-metre tsunami which flooded the capital Nuku'alofa. 

An underwater telecommunication cable was damaged in the natural disaster, leaving the island cut off for days. 

When National MP Dr Shane Reti heard, he thought he would pen a request to Elon Musk, who owns Starlink, a global provider of high-speed broadband internet. 

Starlink uses around 1700 satellites that can deliver internet access to remote locations as they orbit Earth. 

"I guess Elon Musk can only say no and if you don't ask you don't know," Reti wrote in a Twitter post.

"After the Minister told me in a phone call on Monday that the telecommunications cable to Tonga was down I immediately sent a letter to Elon to see if he would contribute Starlink to the emergency," Reti said in a tweet. 

The letter asked Musk, who is currently worth just under $400 billion, if he could see his way to providing "urgent Starlink communications to public officials and the good people of Tonga in this moment of need."  

Reti told Newshub he had not yet heard back from Musk, but he has a brother-in-law based in Australia who worked for Tesla Australasia Region and he will reach to him if he hears nothing soon.

"Like I said, if you don’t ask you don’t know and he can only say no."