Public holiday to mark death of King George Tupou V

By Hayden Donnell

The late King George Tupou V, of Tonga. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The late King George Tupou V, of Tonga. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Tongans have been given Monday and Tuesday off work to mark the death of late monarch King George Tupou V.

The Tongan Government declared the a new national public holiday on March 26 and a national day of mourning on March 27 and after a meeting this morning.

A state funeral for King George Tupou V will be held on Tuesday, following his body arriving in the country on Monday afternoon.

Prime Minister John Key, Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Labour leader David Shearer will headline a New Zealand delegation attending the funeral.

The party will leave on Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 on Tuesday morning and return the same day.

"At this time the thoughts of the Government and the people of New Zealand are with His Majesty's family, the people of Tonga, and the Tongan community in New Zealand," Mr Key said.

Flags on government buildings in New Zealand will be flown at half-mast on the day of the funeral.

It is expected to be a lavish affair, with the late king's body carried by over 100 people from the palace to the royal tombs on an ornate platform.

Pacific Scoop today reporting that Melino Maka, chairman of the Tongan Advisory Council, was estimating the funeral could cost Tonga around $1 million.

That cost was expected to be met by both the people of Tonga and the Government.

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