10 Jul 2006

Hundreds of NZ-based Tongans expected at Prince's funeral

3:11 pm on 10 July 2006

Several hundred members of the Tongan Community in Auckland are expected to fly home for the funeral of Prince Tu'ipelehake and his wife, Princess Kaimana.

The two and their driver, Vinisia Hefa, were killed in a car accident in San Francisco after a teenage driver hit their vehicle at high speed.

Eighteen-year-old Edith Delgado has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide charges and was remanded in custody on a three-million US dollar bail.

The editor of the Taimi O Tonga newspaper in Auckland, Ulualo Pouhila, says New Zealand-based Tongans will want to attend the funeral, which is likely to be held at Prince Tu'ipelehake's estate in Alaki.

"It's always a big occasion in Tonga, we expect thousands of people to be there. There'll be heaps of pigs sacrificed and lots of mats, tapa cloths, and people will be there, they normally wear black."

Mr Pouhila says the high chief was admired because he was a man of the people.