Tonga in national holiday to bid farewell to leader Pohiva

September 19, 2019 - 12:24 am

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Hundreds of mourners have packed a church service and children stood vigil as Tonga took a national holiday to bid farewell to Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva at a state funeral.

During a political career over more than three decades, Pohiva helped wrest power from the royal family and bring greater democracy to the small Pacific island nation. He died last week in Auckland after being medically evacuated to New Zealand.

Former lawmaker Teisina Fuko said Pohiva was very close to the people of Tonga and will be remembered as a spearhead for change.

Children stood along the roads in the capital Nuku'alofa on Thursday as Pohiva's family and members of the Tongan royal family followed the hearse into the Centenary Church.

Delegations from Australia and New Zealand attended the service.

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