Tongan taboo for touching king’s head brings foreign church minister to perform coronation

PHOTO: D’Arcy Wood will coronate the incoming Tongan king King Tupou VI in July. Photo/Dennis Manktelow (Herald Sun). 

A foreign church minister who has Tongan connection will perform the coronation of Their Majesties King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau’u Tuku’aho following  an official request made because of the taboo for Tongan subjects to touch the king’s head.

The king’s body is regarded as sacred and that Tongan  citizens are not allowed to touch him or even stay very close to where he was when talking to him.

The retired Methodist minister, Rev D’Arcy Wood who lives in Gisborne, Melbourne, was formally invited to perform the coronation ceremony of Their Majesties this Saturday.

He told the Australian’s Herald Sun that he has been given the royal task because “no Tongan citizen can do it as it is forbidden for a Tongan to touch the King’s head”.

Rev Mr Wood was born in Tonga when his father A. Harold Wood was principal at the Free Wesleyan Church’s college in 1924.

He told the paper that “I know the King from his time when he was the High Commissioner for Tonga in Canberra in the 1990s — he and his wife were among many Tongans who came to the church I was the Minister at.”

Mr Wood will fly to Tonga tomorrow and he reportedly said he will be “talking to the King and Queen a lot as it gets closer and there will be a lot of rehearsals.”

“The day itself will be very exciting for Tongans and there are enormous celebrations planned across the country from school kids getting involved, traditional dancing and feasting,” Herald Sun reported.


He said: “My father was principal of the main boys school in Tonga, he conducted services and led Hymns in Tongan and established choirs in the country when he discovered what great singers the Tongans were”.

One of Mr Wood’s sisters, Elizabeth Wood-Ellem, returned to live in Tonga as an adult and wrote a book on Tongan Queen S’lote Tupou III, who became world famous when at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation she refused to ride in a hooded carriage during a rain marred procession.

Their Majesties’ coronation celebration will formally start this Friday 27 to July 7.

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