9 Jun 2009

Tonga's Baron Vaea passes away

9:36 am on 9 June 2009

Tonga's former long-serving Prime Minister, Baron Vaea, has died.

His family reports that the 88-year-old died on Sunday night after being in poor health since late last month.

Baron Vaea served as Prime Minister under the previous King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV between 1991 and 2000.

He had held various Cabinet portfolios from 1972 and by the 1990s had applied to retire, before being asked to become Prime Minister.

A member of Tonga's noble class, Baron Vaea wa the nephew of Queen Salote who reigned from 1918 to 1965.

During the Second World War he served in the New Zealand Air Force.