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* Watch Tagata Pasifika features on Tonga and King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, including over 4 hours coverage of the  entire funeral, by clicking on the links below the photos.

Obituary: King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV 

'E 'Otua Mafimafi, Ko ho mau 'Eimi koe,
Ko Koe ko e falala 'anga, Mo e 'ofa ki Tonga:
'Afio hifo 'emau lotu 'Aia 'oku mau fai ni,
Mo ke tali ho mau loto
'O malu'i 'a Tupou.

 King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV
was born Siaosi Taufa'ahau Tupoulahi on the fourth of July 1918, the eldest son of Queen Salote Tupou III and her consort, Prince Tungi .

 Thrust into the leadership of the Tongan Monarchy in her teens, Queen Salote was only 18 when the young Prince was born. She was loved by her people and was very much a strong influence throughout the life of Prince Tupoulahi .

 From a young age, Prince Tupoulahi showed prowess in the classroom and on the sports-field, in fact at the age of 14 he broke Tonga's national pole vault record.

 After attending primary school in Tonga Prince Tupoulahi left for Australia to finish his schooling.  He attended University in Sydney and graduated with a law degree, the first Tongan monarch to receive a Western university education.

 In 1937 he became known as Prince Tupouto'a Tungi, the crown Prince. And 10 years later on June 10th he married Halaevalu Mata'aho at a double ceremony in which his younger brother Prince Fatafehi Tuipelehake was also married to his bride.

 Shortly after his return from studies in Australia, he was appointed to the Cabinet as the Minister of Education and then Minister of Health. In December 1949, he became Premier. During his 16 years as premier, Tonga underwent a number of important economic and social changes.

 In December 1965 after many years of ill health Queen Salote died and almost two years later, in July 1967, after a year of mourning and a period of preparation, Crown Prince Tungi was crowned King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV , in the royal chapel in Nukualofa.

 Under the King's guidance, Tonga moved rapidly to establish itself as an independent Sovereign nation. Even though Tonga had not been colonised, it had signed treaties bringing it under Britain protection. But this ended in 1970 and Tonga was keen to continue it's program of economic development while forging international ties.  King Taufa'ahau Tupou certainly became well known for his trips overseas and the benefit to Tonga of his quiet diplomacy cannot be under-estimated.

 In later years, hindered by a burgeoning weight problem, the King was forced to undergo a radical lifestyle change which included weight training and cycling. However, the damage done to his system was irreversible and he was largely confined to a wheel chair.

 By this time the face of Tongan Politics had changed considerably as the king found himself in charge of a country crying out for political change. It did not help that the country was embroiled in a scandal involving the sale of Tongan passports to Hong Kong Chinese.

 Over the next decade  Tonga was racked by further scandal and allegations of corruption at high levels of government, the most serious involving the king's official court jester, an American businessman who invested $26 million in a government trust fund that disappeared.

 In recent years failing health has meant King Taufa'ahau has rarely been seen in public. During last year's strike and pro-democracy unrest, it was the King's daughter who met with protesters to end the six-week-long strike.

 Despite the problems in the Kingdom and the cry for more political reform and democracy in government, most Tongans respect the King for what he has achieved for Tonga and will remember him with love and deep affection.

 Written by John Utanga

* To read more TP Articles and watch the relevant stories just click on the Archive links below the photos...


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