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Friends and family who lost loved ones in the Tongan ferry tragedy marched down Auckland's Queen Street today in memory of those who perished.

Carrying banners and photographs of their relatives, they marched from Aotea Square to Britomart, before heading to the viaduct where they gathered together to speak about their loss.

In the emotionally charged ceremony, flowers were thrown into the water while Tongan and New Zealand flags were flown at half-mast.

Organiser Alani Taione told NZPA the march was also about putting pressure on the New Zealand and Tongan governments to fund a salvage operation to recover the bodies.

"We're here today to remember our loved ones, but also to expose the Tongan government.

"To leave the bodies out in the water is inhumane, and the government has to take responsibility," Mr Taione said.

Esitaola Puleheloto Pihiaia lost her 23-year-old sister Sisiliah Puleheloto when the Princess Ashika suddenly sank off the coast of Nuku'alofa on August 5.

"I'm here today with my family to pay our respects. We also want to put pressure on the government to rescue the bodies so we can have a proper burial.

"It's very important to us to be here today, and we're still hoping that Sisiliah will be returned home to us," Ms Puleheloto Pihiaia said.

Sisiliah's cousin Chacintta Akapo Hopotoa and her friend Laekyn Atavenitia said it was a significant day.

"We really wanted to be here today to remember Sisiliah," Ms Akapo Hopotoa said.

Other families who joined in the march today included the relatives of 26-year-old Salesi Havili.

His aunt Toa Havili said it was important for them to pay their last respects.

"We wanted to be here today in loving memory of Salesi.

"I think the government could do more to recover the bodies and we're still hoping that will happen," Ms Havili said.

Fifty-four people were rescued after the Princess Ashika sank, and two bodies were retrieved. The 73 remaining passengers were presumed to be trapped on board the ferry, now sitting in 110 metres of water.

The cost of retrieving the vessel has been put at up to $25 million, more than double New Zealand's total annual aid to Tonga.

The Tongan government is expected to rule out salvaging the vessel in a decision due any day.

- NZPA