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Queen Mother's body arrives in Tonga

The body of Queen Mother Halaevalu Mata'aho has arrived in Tonga, Radio New Zealand reports.

Queen Mata'aho died last weekend at the age of 90 in Auckland.

A Royal New Zealand Airforce Hercules brought the Queen Mother home, landing at Fua'amotu about an hour ago.

The royal procession will travel by road from the airport to the capital of Nuku'alofa, a journey that spans some 20 kilometres and the streets are lined by school children, some waiting for over three hours to pay their respects.

Matangi Tonga online reported traditional presentations were made to the Royal Family yesterday, from people honouring the late Queen Mother.

Presentations were made by the Free Wesleyan Church and Seventh Day Adventist Church yesterday morning, and the tributes included Tongan koloa, garlands, livestock- including cows and pigs, as well as traditional root crops.

Three of the Queen Mother's grandchildren Crown Prince Tupouto'a 'Ulukalala, Honourable Sione Ikamafana Tuita and Honourable 'Etani Tuku'aho took turns in receiving the presentations made at the Pangai Lahi grounds next to the Royal palace in Nuku'alofa.

The presentations, which began in the weekend, have been made by family clans, churches, businesses, and others.

Queen Mata'aho will be laid to rest at Mala'ekula, the Royal Tombs tomorrow, with Tonga marking the occasion with a special public holiday.

Photo: Sia Adams Tonga's Crown Prince Tupouto'a ‘Ulukalala, (right), leads members of the royal family to welcome the body of Queen Mother Mata'aho home
Radio New Zealand
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