11 Sep 2006

The King of Tonga has died at the age of 88

10:40 am on 11 September 2006

The King of Tonga, Taufa'ahau Tupou the fourth, has died in hospital in Auckland after a long illness.

The King, who was 88, passed away at Mercy hospital , where he has been for most of the past year.

His death was confirmed by Tonga's Lord Chamberlain, the honourable Fielakepa.

He says the Queen, Princess Pilolevu and other members of the Royal Family were with the King when he died.

King Tupou had wielded the near-absolute powers of the Tongan monarchy since the death in 1965 of his mother, Queen Salote.

Tonga's new king will be Crown Prince Tupouto'a.

Tonga had already said it couldn't hold this year's Pacific Islands Forum summit as traditional custom would not allow the country to host such an event if it was in mourning for the king