Tonga prepares to officially crown King Tupou VI
Tonga counting down to the coronation of King Tupou VI on Saturday.
Festivities continue in Tonga in the build up to this Saturday's coronation of King Tupou VI.
The 11 day celebrations culminate in the King's formal crowning at the Royal Palace Grounds in the Tongan capital.
Indira Moala reports from Nuku'alofa.
The celebrations began last Saturday with an ancient kava ceremony and the presentation of traditional gifts from local chiefs. On Wednesday more than three and a half thousand school children marched in the national red and white colours at the country's main sports ground, Teu Faiva Stadium. They chanted "Long live the King!" as they saluted Tupou VI.
Tonga High School's Head Prefect, Alice 'Akauola, says she was star struck when she saw the King..
ALICE 'AKAUOLA: I got to sit, like, right there and the King was right in front of me. So awesome. It was an awesome feeling. The King was right there.
The 55-year-old King Tupou, succeeds his brother George Tupou V, who died in 2012. With the country's monarchy dating back more than 1000 years, honour for the royal family is heavily ingrained in many Tongans who take pride in being in the only monarchy left in the Pacific.
'Ofa Taufo'ou from Auckland, is among many overseas visitors, who returned home for the Coronation.
'OFA TAUFO'OU: I can't say enough, how much and how important the coronation is to me, personally. And it's not only to have king and a queen. It's more than that. We value our king and our queen, our culture. I can't have the way to explain how it means to me to have a royalty and to have this occasion.
The crowning of George Tupou V in 2008 brought an estimated 5,000 visitors to Tonga. But local tourist operators are saying the number of visitors this year has exceeded that by far.
Kolotita Lolesio from the Friends Cafe says their business is up 90% sales this week.
KOLOITITA LOLESIO: Very busy, like the last coronation, but this one is much more busier than the last one. like double or triple.
Ms Lolesio says the coronation is hugely significant for the people.
KOLOITITA LOLESIO: Everyone here in the kingdom prepared, like cleaning up their homes, and they're very happy, like us, very excited, it's very important.
Over the past few weeks, every village, church and school in Tonga has presented a hala, a traditional gift offering of food, mats and money, to the Royal family. With the majority of Government seats traditionally held by nobility, this is the first coronation that has been hosted by a more democratically elected parliament wiith a commoner, 'Akilisi Pohiva, as Prime Minister.
A royal lunch hosted by Tonga's nobles on Thursday, officially welcomed international dignitaries and other royal guests from overseas. They were entertained with cultural performances from local village groups. The celebrations officially end on Tuesday with a Military Tattoo performance.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: