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Cook Islands Loses a Much-Loved Son

Message from the Honourable Prime Minister:

It is with great sadness and a very heavy heart that I advise of the passing of our much-loved Dr Joe Williams MBChB, MPH, QSM, QSO.

Dr Joe was a pioneer on many fronts and a man way beyond his time. He was one of our early breed of home-grown medical officers of health. As well as being in general practice and serving the people of our country for many years he went into politics in 1968 when he was elected as an MP for Aitutaki. He served as Minister of Health and Education in the 1970s. In 1999 he became the country’s fifth Prime Minister and also held the Minister of Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Born in Aitutaki in October 1934, Dr Williams has in recent years been based in Auckland and for thousands of our people in New Zealand, his medical practice was where they headed for their primary health care.

Dr Williams was well regarded as a medical researcher and is credited for his world-leading research with the World Health Organization and practice to prevent the spread of the tropical disease lymphatic filariasis.

Dr Williams will be greatly missed. E tumu rakau ruperupe teia no te Basileia kua inga. On behalf of the Government and people of the Cook Islands I extend our heart-felt condolences to Dr William’s wife Jill and family.

A National Memorial Service will be organised for Dr Williams once his funeral arrangements have been confirmed.

As a sign of respect and remembrance I have asked that all our flags on government buildings be flown at half-mast.

ENDS: Enquiries to Jaewynn McKay +682 55486;