Tongan civil servants giggled yesterday at a condolence ceremony when they were told they should strive for honesty.

Officials from every ministry in the land, their ministers and the Prime Minister, Lord Tu'vakano, offered livestock, yams, kava and tapa cloth in memory of George Tupou V to their new King, Tupou VI.

It took place at his royal residence, Liukava, in the coastal village of Kolovai.

Chiefs spoke on behalf of the monarch to the hundreds gathered.


Ministry of Agriculture official Losaline Maasi translated an official's remarks, which caused a small ripple of giggles from the women's sector, who were seated on the King's lawn.

"He is just thanking the public service, relaying from the King. He's asking everyone to do their best in performing their duties. At the same time, we all have to be honest and committed to our duties."

He further likened Tonga to a waka which was going forward because of the efforts of civil servants, Ms Maasi said.

Asked why people were laughing around her, Ms Maasi said it was at the comment on honesty.

But the affair was a warm-natured event, where three large pigs panted in crates in the heat and then fell asleep.

By tomorrow, they'll be dead and displayed at the new King's kava ceremony, an official ceremonial marker in his reign.

A government speaker thanked the royal family for the opportunities available to the public service, and soon after, ministers met the monarch privately.

Just over $14,500 was also raised by the civil servants and given to the King as a contribution towards the funeral costs.