King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV

11 September 2006

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Media statement

King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV

Prime Minister Helen Clark today extended her condolences and sympathies to the people of Tonga at the loss of their Head of State, His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV.

King Tupou IV died overnight in Auckland, aged 88 years, after a long period of poor health.

Helen Clark also extended the New Zealand Government’s sincerest condolences to Her Majesty Queen Halaevalu Mata’aho on the death of her husband.

"Since assuming the throne in 1965 after the death of his mother, Queen Salote Tupou III, His Majesty presided over Tonga’s transformation into a fully fledged member of the Commonwealth and the United Nations as an independent sovereign state.

"King Tupou IV followed a path of peace and stability for his country.  While retaining the important cultural heritage and institutions of Tonga, he also sought to place Tonga in a position to take advantage of the benefits of economic globalisation. 

"Achieving this difficult balance will be perhaps the King’s greatest legacy for Tonga. The people of Tonga revered King Tupou IV throughout his reign.

"As a sign of respect, flags on government buildings in New Zealand will fly at half-mast today and on the day of the funeral," Helen Clark said.

Details of the State Funeral for King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, which will be held in Nuku’alofa, are not yet available.

Contact:        David Lewis, 021 409 492, Gordon Jon Thompson, 021 392 571.