12 Sep 2006

Tributes paid to King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV

5:40 am on 12 September 2006

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has paid tribute to the king of Tonga, saying the late monarch's long reign was marked by peace and stability in the Pacific nation.

Mr Downer says the King was held in the highest regard in Tonga and across the Pacific.

He says that King Tupou IV was a symbol to the Tongan people of the importance of maintaining their cultural heritage.

And, the Governor of American Samoa has also extended his condolences and sympathies to the people of Tonga.

Togiola Tulafono says this is a great loss, not only to the Kingdom of Tonga, but to the entire Pacific Community.

He says the King has been a great friend of American Samoa, and he will be missed.

Tupou's son Crown Prince Tupouto'a - a 58-year-old bachelor with no children - was sworn in as King on Monday, but a formal coronation is likely to be a year away.