Thousands of people, including international dignitaries, have turned up to farewell King George Tupou V of Tonga, who ushered in democracy to the South Pacific island nation.
The royal was buried at the end of a two-hour solemn state funeral ceremony that mixed Tongan traditions with Christian hymn singing.
The body of the King was put into the Royal tomb by the Nima Tapu - the sacred hands - who are the only people allowed on the tombs.
Tupou's body now lies entombed to be accompanied by the Nima Tapu for the next 10 nights to help ease his way into polutu, the afterlife.
The King died in Hong Kong on Sunday March 18, aged 63.
A 21-gun salute boomed across the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa, where the streets had been draped in the mourning colours of black and purple.
Thousands of Tongans sat cross-legged three and four deep as the funeral cortege made its way from the Royal Palace to the tombs on board a fata, or platform, carried by 1000 men wearing traditional costume.
Weighing five tonne and at a length of 20 metres, ONE News Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver said carrying the fata is very heavy and dangerous work. Men were rotated in the job as 150 at a time carried the fata, topped with a tall black canopy, along roads lined with school children sitting on the footpath. They bowed their heads as the slow-marching military band leading the procession passed by.
Hundreds of schoolgirls dressed in blue sat alongside the path into the tombs, and a choir performed sombre funeral music, bible readings, prayers and eulogies, mixed with Tongan traditions.
The coffin was then carried by the royal undertakers over a wall, as dictated by tradition, to a grave next to the late king's grandmother.
Dignitaries from across the Pacific, including a large New Zealand delegation, representatives of the British and Japanese royal families and heads of government from around the Pacific, attended the ceremony.
The New Zealand delegation led by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae arrived in Tonga this morning for the funeral and flags on New Zealand government buildings are being flown at half-mast.
Air New Zealand put on an extra flight to allow more people to return from New Zealand to grieve.
The King's body was greeted on arrival from Hong Kong yesterday by hundreds of mourners lining the 35 kilometre road from the airport to the royal palace in the Tongan capital, Nuku'alofa.
Tupou, a flamboyant, bachelor king, was known for his eccentricities, such as being driven around in a London taxi and his penchant for ornate and elaborate uniforms and top hats.
Shortly after the Oxford-educated Tupou ascended the throne in 2006, demonstrations demanding greater democracy turned into riots in which eight people died and large parts of the commercial centre of Nuku'alofa were destroyed.
The late king then relinquished most of his power in the last Polynesian monarchy to a broadly popularly elected government after 165 years of feudal rule.
Tupou's younger brother, Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka, who was with him when he died, will be the new king, Tupou VI.
Tonga, which comprises 170 islands, has a population of about 100,000 and lies about 2,120 km northeast of New Zealand. Its debt-stricken economy is dependent on tourism, fishing, growing crops, and earnings sent back by expatriates.
Short mourning period
Earlier today, Dreaver told TV ONE's Breakfast the mood was mixed when the King's body arrived home yesterday.
It was compulsory for all students to line the streets and they were waiting for around five hours in the blazing heat, Dreaver said. However, most were pleased to be there and she spoke to some people who were genuinely upset.
"Nobody wanted to see this happen," Dreaver said.
Meanwhile, the mourning period will officially end on Saturday, at least in part because of the tight economic times in Tonga.
The mourning period was expected to run for 90 days, but Dreaver said the new King wanted it cut back to five days.
One reason is Tonga's grim financial situation but there may have been other reasons as well, she said.
She said she believes the late King left a list of things he wanted followed through in the event of his death, but it is not known if a shorter mourning period was one of them.
- With Reuters and Newstalk ZB