New Zealand High Commission Nuku'alofa, Tonga

New Zealand Prime Minister saddened at King of Tonga’s passing

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says his thoughts are with the people of Tonga following the news that King Tupou V died in Hong Kong last night.

King George came to the throne following the death of his father, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, in 2006.

“New Zealand has a strong, close and friendly relationship with Tonga, with deep ties at a personal level and frequent contact at all levels of government.

“He will also be sadly missed by the Tongan community in New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

“I would like to acknowledge the very valuable contribution the King has made in steering Tonga towards democracy and hope this work will continue.”

King Tupou was a long-time champion of a more open system of government for Tonga, seeing its royal heritage as integral to its culture and identity, but favouring a more representative elected parliament. Three days before his coronation, he announced he would relinquish most of his powers and be guided by his Prime Minister’s recommendations on most matters.

“He believed that the Monarchy was an instrument of change and can truly be seen as the architect of evolving democracy in Tonga. This will be his enduring legacy,” Mr Key says.

“I have visited the King and enjoyed his fine hospitality in Tonga, and I enjoyed hosting His Majesty on a state visit to New Zealand last year.”

King George studied at Auckland's King’s College before going to England to complete his education.

“The thoughts of my Government and the people of New Zealand are with His Majesty’s family and the people of Tonga at this sad time,” Mr Key says.

The New Zealand High Commission in Nuku’alofa is flying its flag at half-mast as a mark of respect for the late King.

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