13 May 2012

Former Cook Islands Prime Minister joins the ancestors

Radio New Zealand International 

At 71, Sir Geoffrey passes away at his home on Rarotonga

The Speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament, Sir Geoffrey Henry, has died.

Sir Geoffrey died at his home in Rarotonga surrounded by family members and close friends. He was 71.

Sir Geoffrey, a former prime minister, had been battling cancer and had been a patient at the Rarotonga Hospital until Saturday when he was discharged home.

Plans are being finalized for a state funeral for Sir Geoffrey, whose final resting place will be next to his home in Takuvaine.

Sir Geoffrey, who was born in Aitutaki in 1940 and is from a family of 16, married Louisa Hoff in 1965 and they had six children.

He entered the country’s political scene in 1965 at the age of 24 - the youngest member of the Cook Islands Legislative Assembly - as an independent member for Aitutaki, and was the leader of the Cook Islands Party from the early 1980s until his retirement from politics in 2006.

Sir Geoffrey served as the country’s prime minister for a brief period in 1983, and was again prime minister for a decade from 1989 to 1999.

He became a Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1992, and in February last year became the Speaker of Parliament.

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