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Associated Press Reports:

King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, 88; Ruled Tonga Since 1967
From the Associated Press
September 11, 2006

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga — King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, a towering figure in the Pacific Island nation of Tonga for nearly four decades, has died in a New Zealand hospital, media reports said today. He was 88.

Media reports in New Zealand and Tonga said the king died shortly before midnight Sunday, New Zealand time, and the nation's lord chamberlain, Fielakepa, reportedly confirmed the death on Radio New Zealand. The lord chamberlain is a government minister assigned to serve the monarch.

The king had been in failing health for some time.

The country is expected to declare an official months-long mourning period. Tonga, the South Pacific's last monarchy, is made up of about 160 islands with a land area of 289 square miles. It is situated about 1,250 miles north of New Zealand.

The king's brother, Prince Tu'ipelehake and his wife, Melenaite Veikune, were killed earlier this year in a car crash in Northern California. Crown Prince Tupouto'a, 57, is expected to be named the new king.

Tupou IV was born in July 1918. He received his early education in Tonga and was an outstanding athlete, competing in cricket, tennis, rugby and rowing. He was also the first Tongan to receive a university degree, graduating from the University of Sydney with a bachelor of arts degree.

He ascended the throne July 4, 1967, two years after his mother, Queen Salote, died. Tupou IV's 39-year reign made him one of world's longest-serving sovereigns, after Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Samoa's King Malietoa Tanumafili II.

Tupou IV made international headlines in the 1970s, when he became the world's heaviest monarch, tipping the scales at the Tonga airport — the only scales in the country that could hold him — at 462 pounds. He eventually lost between 160 and 180 pounds.

In recent years, he became increasingly autocratic, and a pro-democracy movement strengthened. Thousands rallied last year in a call for constitutional reform.

Part of the king's fortune, reportedly worth tens of millions of dollars, came from the many monopolies that his family operates in Tonga. Meanwhile, a quarter of his subjects lived in poverty, according to the Asian Development Bank.

In 1947 he married Halaevalu Mata'aho, the daughter of a high chief, in an unprecedented double wedding with his younger brother, Prince Tu'ipelehake, who married Veikune, niece of the speaker of Tonga's Parliament.
 

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The day before the King passed away a young Tongan lady, Tahnee Afuhaamango, was elected "Sportsperson of the event" at the 3rd. "World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships 2006" held from 3rd. to 10th. Sept. in Limerick, Ireland. This wonderful young girl not only won most of her races but bounced, smiled, swam and won the hearts and admiration of everone there. Having trained 6 days a week in Darwin, she found that she could not get a place on the Australian team. Undaunted, she wrote to the King of her fathers homeland, Tonga and got his permission to represent his country. Having competed against over 380 swimmers from 15 other countries, she goes home with -- 8- Gold, 2- Silver, 2- Bronze and I think 5- D.S.World Records. I'm sure King Tuaufa'ahau Tupou IV. would have been proud of her.
 

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The day before the King passed away a young Tongan lady, Tahnee Afuhaamango, was elected "Sportsperson of the event" at the 3rd. "World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships 2006" held from 3rd. to 10th. Sept. in Limerick, Ireland. This wonderful young girl not only won most of her races but bounced, smiled, swam and won the hearts and admiration of everone there. Having trained 6 days a week in Darwin, she found that she could not get a place on the Australian team. Undaunted, she wrote to the King of her fathers homeland, Tonga and got his permission to represent his country. Having competed against over 380 swimmers from 15 other countries, she goes home with -- 8- Gold, 2- Silver, 2- Bronze and I think 5- D.S.World Records. I'm sure King Tuaufa'ahau Tupou IV. would have been proud of her.
What an accomplishment, my sincere congratulations, look forward to seeing more of this young lady in the Special Olympics.(==D) (==D)
 

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In the sixties/early seventies, the King travelled to the UK on one of Bank Lines copra ships. Can't remember which one. Not a lot of special treatment other than the bed in the Owners Cabin had to be enlarged to cater for the King's somewhat ample size!
 

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The day before the King passed away a young Tongan lady, Tahnee Afuhaamango, was elected "Sportsperson of the event" at the 3rd. "World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships 2006" held from 3rd. to 10th. Sept. in Limerick, Ireland. This wonderful young girl not only won most of her races but bounced, smiled, swam and won the hearts and admiration of everone there. Having trained 6 days a week in Darwin, she found that she could not get a place on the Australian team. Undaunted, she wrote to the King of her fathers homeland, Tonga and got his permission to represent his country. Having competed against over 380 swimmers from 15 other countries, she goes home with -- 8- Gold, 2- Silver, 2- Bronze and I think 5- D.S.World Records. I'm sure King Tuaufa'ahau Tupou IV. would have been proud of her.
Galtra, Thanks for this one and Tahnee Afuhaamango did herself proud as well as Tonga. A great result.
 

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Hi Ian, the ship was the Rowanbank, the Master Frank Parsons and the Mate yours truly. A fascinating Man who would walk the boat deck twice a day wearing a waistcoat full of weights. Cheers....................pete
 

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Hi Tonga, It was July/August 1972 (handy things Discharge Books). Many other memories starting to emerge from the mist's, will post them at a later date, Cheers................pete
 
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