Crowds expected for final farewell to Tongan King

King Tupou V. Photo / Mark Mitchell
King Tupou V. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Fifty thousand people are expected to cram into Nuku'alofa for the funeral of the king of Tonga today.

The body of King George Tupou V has been lying in state at the Royal Palace.

A procession will start from the palace at midday and go to the Royal Tombs at Mala'ekula, where the king will be buried.

Radio Tonga reporter Salote Sisifa says a traditional wake will take place this morning, followed by a burial at the Royal Tombs at Mala'ekula.

She's expecting the atmosphere in Tonga to be very subdued.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is part of the New Zealand delegation flying to Tonga this morning for the state funeral of King George Tupou V.

"I'm very proud to on behalf of the worlds largest city and certainly the largest residence of Tongan nationality outside of Tonga to go with the government and represent the interests of Tonga."

Governor-General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, Pacific Island Affairs Minister Hekia Parata, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and Labour leader David Shearer will also be on the flight.

"This is very very sad for Tonga, it will be a hugely historic occasion."

It's a national day of mourning in Tonga.

- Newstalk ZB

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