17 Mar 2003

Large contingent of dignitaries converging on Nauru for funeral

3:34 pm on 17 March 2003

A New Zealand Air Force plane has just left Wellington for Nauru, carrying dignitaries who will attend tomorrow's funeral service for President Bernard Dowiyogo.

Mr Dowiyogo died on Sunday last week in a Washington DC hospital, after undergoing emergency heart surgery.

The plane is carrying the New Zealand Governor General Dame Sylvia Cartwright, Government MP Philip Taito Field and New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Head of Protocol, Tia Barrett.

Also on the flight is the speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament, Pupuke Ropati, Niue's High Commissioner to New Zealand, Hima Takelesi. and Samoan Cabinet Minister, Tagaloa Tuasale Tagaloa.

The aircraft is travelling via Nadi where it will pick up the Speaker of the Fiji Hourse of Represenatatives, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, the United States Ambassador to Fiji, and the British High Commissioner to Fiji, as well as diplomatic officials from France, Japan and French Polynesia.

The Forum Secretary General Noel Levi is also travelling on the New Zealand plane.

The funeral originally scheduled for today was put back until tomorrow after delays in getting Mr Dowiyogo's body from Washington to Nauru.