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Death of the King of Tonga

Government House

Statement from the Governor-General regarding the death of the King of Tonga

19 March 2012

Death of the King of Tonga

It was with much sadness that my wife Janine and I this morning learnt of the death of His Majesty King George Tupou V, the King of Tonga.

King George was welcomed to New Zealand by my predecessor Sir Anand Satyanand with a full ceremonial welcome at Government House in Wellington in July 2011.

During his reign fundamental changes to Tonga’s constitution, government and electoral system, as a part of a democratic reform process, were realised. While mindful of the importance of preserving Tonga’s heritage and traditional customs, the King played a central role in promoting democratic change, including accepting the Tongan Parliament’s choice of Prime Minister and being guided by his ministers in matters of governance.

New Zealand and Tonga have a strong relationship that is underpinned by our shared Polynesian heritage and a wide array of people-to-people links. The more than 50,000 New Zealanders of Tongan descent have given much to our country’s society, economy, culture and sport and will mourn the King’s passing.

At this sad time, on behalf of all New Zealanders I extend our sincerest sympathies to the King’s family and the people of Tonga.

Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM QSO
Governor-General of New Zealand


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