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Tongan King's funeral brought forward a day

Published: 3:22PM Thursday March 22, 2012 Source: ONE News

Tongan officials have confirmed the funeral of King George Tupou V will take place on Tuesday rather than Wednesday as first planned.

King Tupou died in Hong Kong on Sunday night, aged 63.

After indecision yesterday over a Tuesday or Wednesday service Tongan officials have opted to hold it on Tuesday when it is expected to start around midday.

The change of day means the pressure increases on the royal undertakers, a select group of men called the Nima Tapu - or the "sacred hands" - who are charged with organising the day.

The role of royal undertaker is a traditional one, handed down from father to son and Takapu Tokateu has been one of the sacred hands for more than 20 years.

"My duty to His Majesty is to prepare everything about the funeral," he said.

A palace caretaker by day, but as one of the Nima Tapu he discussed with Tupou V what arrangements the King wanted when he died.

"It's very hard. We have something lost from our hearts when we know the King is already passed away. It's very painful,"  he said.

Every detail from the construction of the royal tomb down to how the late King will be buried was discussed.

Tokateu said the details are secret and sacred.

"We have rules about our duty. That's why we keep it inside."

As sad as it will be to bury his King, Tokateu knows if he does his job well the King can rest peacefully.

"I feel be a man because I do all my best, with all my heart, do my duty for His Majesty."