4 Jul 2006

Celebrations under way in Tonga to mark King's birthday

6:43 am on 4 July 2006

Celebrations are under way in Tonga to mark King Taufa'ahou Tupou IV's birthday.

The King turns 88 today and has returned from New Zealand, where he has been undergoing medical care, for the celebrations.

Primary school children have presented the king with gifts and there will be a military parade today.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says today is a national public holiday and big celebrations are planned.

"This is very important. It is his 88th birthday and it would be a miracle if he makes it next year. So, a lot of people, and Tongans in general, take this as a very proud moment for them, that the king has returned."