23 Mar 2012

Expatriate Tongans angry King's funeral date has changed

7:51 am on 23 March 2012

The decision to hold the state funeral for King George Tupou V a day earlier has been labelled a kick in the guts for Tongans living overseas.

The late monarch's burial was scheduled for Wednesday but will now be held a day earlier at the request of the new king, Tupou VI.

The Auckland Tongan Advisory Council says the change shows a complete disregard for Tongans overseas who were already struggling to get to Tonga by Wednesday.

Its chairman, Melino Maka, says he has been fielding angry calls from Tongans here and in Australia who feel that the change is an insult to them.

He says they don't accept that it is needed to save money, because Tongans overseas pay for most of Tonga's economy through remittances.

Mr Maka says the change is making Tongans in New Zealand question their loyalty to Tonga.