Tonga's Pohiva a good friend to Aust: PM

Tongan prime minister Akilisi Pohiva died in Zealand at 78 years of age.
Tongan prime minister Akilisi Pohiva died in Zealand at 78 years of age.

Australia has "lost a good friend" with the death of Tongan prime minister Akilisi Pohiva, Scott Morrison says.

The 78-year-old Pacific leader died in Auckland on Thursday morning after he was urgently transferred from Tonga with pneumonia.

"The Pacific has lost a passionate leader in Akilisi Pohiva. It was only a month ago that we met at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu," Mr Morrison said in a statement.

"He was warm and engaging. A shining light for Tonga and the Pacific who gave so much of himself to public life.

"At 78, he chose to serve rather than put his feet up. He served in the parliament for over thirty years."

Mr Morrison praised Mr Pohiva for pushing his country's democratic evolution towards constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.

"There is a wonderful Tongan community in our country and I know there will be sadness at his passing," he said.

Australian Associated Press