16 Sep 2019

Tonga declares public holiday for PM Pohiva's state funeral

7:24 am on 16 September 2019

The state funeral for the late Prime Minister of Tonga is to be held on Thursday, with an accompanying public holiday and national day of mourning.

The late Tongan prime minister 'Akilisi Pohiva.

The late Tongan prime minister 'Akilisi Pohiva. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

'Akilisi Pohiva, who died in Auckland on Thursday after being hospitalised with pnuemonia, had been the longest serving MP in Tonga and Prime Minister since 2014.

Family services have already begun in Auckland with a public and official memorial service taking place at the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga in Mangere on Sunday night.

The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, her deputy Winston Peters and the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, attended the service.

Mr Pohiva will be repatriated to Tonga on Tuesday via a Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft and will lie-in-state at the St George Building in Nuku'alofa as various church and community groups pay their respects.

The state funeral will then take place on Thursday at the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga Centenary Church before Mr Pohiva's burial at the Telekava Cemetery in Kolomotu'a.

Saione, Kolomotu'a of the Free Wesleyan Church in Nuku'alofa

The Free Wesleyan Centenary Church Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0