HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

The End of an Era – A Tribute to Sir Geoffrey Arama Henry KBE(16 Nov 1940 - 9 May 2012)
Sir Geoff” as he was affectionately known, passed away peacefully in the presence of his family at his home in Takamoa at 1am on Wednesday morning following a long period of illness. The Cook Islands Herald pays tribute to his family to acknowledge the history, contributions and character of this man to the Cook Islands whose illustrious career over many years can best be described as “colourful, charismatic, visionary, selfish but enduring” as well as being an incredible son of the Cook Islands.
He was the kind of person that you either liked or hated. An exemplary and astute scholar and teacher who had a passion to face challenges without fear or favor with no intentions of pulling back if but to achieve the ultimate – “to serve his country and his people.”
Renowned as a master orator entrenched in the disciplines of his cultural heritage and spirituality, a person who was meticulous in the use of language ensuring there was respect and dignity in acknowledging the diversity of other cultures and languages. An outstanding sportsman, writer, critic, commentator and educationist, Sir Geoff was also renowned for having a zest for the outdoors and a love of reading, music and art.
Those close to him will appreciate that he was a very humble person steeped in humility and dignity but forever mindful in respecting the views of others irrespective of race, color or creed. His intellectual capabilities and leadership qualities were recognized when he was awarded a knighthood in 1992 for outstanding services to his country and other accolades and honors to name a few included Honorary Doctorate of the University of the South Pacific. Sir Geoffrey had been involved in the governing of the Cook Islands since 1965, the beginning of political independence.
He had been passionate and successful in politics as he has been in an outstanding sporting career. Youngest ever leader who served successive terms as Prime Minister on 3 separate occasions, three times as Deputy Prime Minister and on 4 occasions as Leader of the Opposition. He led this country through a period of cultural revival and identity never before witnessed, boldly instituted foreign aid and set in train, a proactive program which lifted the tourism industry to a level from which the Cook Islands economy has never regressed to this day.
All of which allowed the Cook Islands the opportunity to understand what political independence really meant. He was widely respected for having the vision and the political guts to oversee the most challenging and comprehensive reform program that has since become a model for and envy of other Pacific Nations.
Having been involved in setting up and overseeing several regional institutions, he was regionally respected for his leadership, foresight, eloquence, passion and intrepid representations as an advocate of the needs of his people and country, the Small Island States and the Pacific Forum Region. His ability as an eloquent orator gained him the reputation as a keynote speaker and authority on political reform in the Pacific resulting in invitations to speak at many international conferences, forums and academic institutions.
His career has not been without its criticisms nor controversy’s however if you knew Sir Geoff, he would brush it aside and say “it goes with the territory!” He retired from politics in 2006 as Leader of the Opposition but maintained a backseat overview of the Cook Island’s Party’s direction and eventual success in returning to the helm of Government in Nov 2010. Prior to his death, he was President of CISNOC and Speaker of Parliament.
His mana as a highly respected leader, Statesman, politician, community figure and father will serve as a remembrance to a man who gave willingly for his country.
Sir Geoffrey is one of the three Prime Ministers who stamped their mark on this country. The others were Sir Albert Henry and Sir Tom Davis.
The management and staff of CI Herald, CITV and CI Radio extend their condolences to Lady Louisa Henry and her family during their loss.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.