The body of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva is lying in state since yesterday evening at the St. George Government Building.
His body arrived in Tonga yesterday afternoon on an RNZAF aircraft. It was welcomed at the kingdom’s international airport by Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Tuku’aho.
Crowds gathered at the airport well before the aircraft’s scheduled arrival time, with some people wearing tauanga’a and photos of the late Prime Minister pinned to their pockets.
Schoolchildren lined the road as a mark of respect.
Onlookers described the welcoming event as solemn and dignified.
After the aircraft landed Hon. Pohiva’s body was transferred to the St George building where a congregational prayer service and public viewing was held.
The State funeral service for the Prime Minister will be held at the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga Centenary Church (Saione) on Thursday.
Hon. Pohiva will be buried at the Telekava Cemetery at Kolomotu’a.
Thursday has been declared a public holiday and a national day of mourning.
At this stage it is still not certain if the king or the queen will attend the service.
An estimated 10,000 people attended a service for Hon. Pohiva at the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga in Māngere, Auckland on Monday evening.
Among those attending were New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, and Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio.
For more information
Thousands attend Auckland memorial for ‘Akilisi Pohiva
‘Akilisi Pohiva’s body back in Tonga