19 Sep 2006

Thousands gather for funeral of Tonga's King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV

10:29 am on 19 September 2006

Thousands of people have arrived in Tonga for the burial of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV today.

He died aged 88 over a week ago in an Auckland hospital after a long illness.

His casket has been lying in State at the Royal Palace since his body arrived in Tonga last Wednesday.

Sara Vui-Talitu reports from Nukualofa.

"The mood is sombre for the state funeral of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, and already many Tongans are making their way to the Royal Tomb where the King will be buried. A delegation of more than a hundred from New Zealand has arrived this morning, bringing the New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and the new Governor General, Anand Satyanand, as well as senior Maori chiefs, and foreign affairs officials and various MPs. Representatives from at least nine Pacific Island countries are here, as are members of the British and Japanese Royal Families. The funeral is set to get under way at midday local time giving the last lot of digniatries, who have just arrived, time to pay their last respects to the King."