The Cook Islands Prime Minister, Honourable Henry Puna, has expressed his deepest sympathies and that of Government on the recent passing of Niue’s former Premier.
The statement was posted by the Cook Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.
“On behalf of the Government and people of the Cook Islands, I wish to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of my dear friend, the late Honourable Sir Toke Tufukia Talagi KNZM, and to the Government and people of Niue.”
Sir Toke was elected to Niue’s Assembly in 1999 and served as Premier from 2008 to June 2020. He was an unwavering champion of fundamental Pacific values of family, collectivism, reciprocity and respect. These values were never more apparent than during his passionate advocacy and leadership on issues which presented unique challenges to the communities of Small Island States to which Niue and the Cook Islands both belong. “This has been a defining characteristic of the former Premier,” said Prime Minister Puna.
“As one of the longest-serving regional leaders, I wish to acknowledge his significant contributions to matters of national and regional importance, and his advocacy for those priorities in regional and multilateral fora are achievements for which he will be fondly remembered.”
Sir Toke was a founding member of the Polynesian Leaders Group and had made significant contributions to various regional initiatives.
“His unwavering activism in encouraging vigorous health initiatives, including addressing the serious threat posed by Non-Communicable Diseases to the well-being of our Pacific People, has been long supported by our Government and will continue to be a central part of our overall regional health agenda,” said the Prime Minister.
The realisation of the Moana Mahu Marine Protected Area, the second largest marine protected reserve in the Pacific, is another key accomplishment of Sir Toke’s enduring leadership.
The Cook Islands and Niue enjoy a close and steadfast relationship, grounded in our shared historical ties of Polynesian cultural ancestry as well as being constituent members of the Realm of New Zealand.
“The Cook Islands values greatly Sir Toke’s contribution to strengthening ties between our countries as well as promoting our mutual interests within the Realm,” said Prime Minister Puna.
In paying tribute to his close friend, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of upholding and promoting those values that underpin the service of individuals like Sir Toke who committed most of his life towards persistent advocacy and protection of the interests of future generations.
“His life will serve as an inspiration to many,” the Prime Minister observed, “particularly during these unprecedented times as our region looks to implement robust frameworks for recovery and transformation post COVID-19. Sir Toke’s constant defending of Pacific interests will undoubtedly drive the next generation of regional leaders to ensure we as a region continue to thrive and prosper.”
“Sir Toke was a great friend to the Cook Islands. He will be greatly missed by all in the region. Te Atua te Aroa – Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the late Sir Toke Talagi and the people of Niue as they mourn the loss of a dedicated son and leader.