Friday 11 May 2012 | Published in Regional
Sir Geoffrey is one of a kind – a man with a heart passionately entwined with the soul of our nation. He is a remarkable orator, thinker, philosopher and incredibly knowledgeable about the world and indeed about the intricacies of life and culture in the Cook Islands.
When I took interest in politics in the Cook Islands as a young man, Sir Geoffrey was my role model.
I aspired to be like him because of his great ability to inspire people thorough his speeches and thoughts.
I applauded with him when he asserted the issues of Cook Islands sovereignty to New Zealand and within the Forum countries.
I stood in spirit with him when he shaped out the economic and political destiny of this beautiful country of ours. I saluted him when he reminded people of the evils and ongoing connotations of colonialism.
The Sir Geoffrey I knew had no fear and at times that might have been a hindrance because at times he did not draw the line and that was the true mark of an uncompromising warrior.
That was a value I learned from him and I know that without that I would have walked out on politics a long time ago.
Sir Geoffrey and I had our moments of indifference but we always made up and we always respected each other. He was a tremendously funny man and he and I would often have a code as to how to make fun of a political opponent thorough using elaborate words with double meanings.
He taught me how to drink and not have a hangover the next morning. He and I both loved Cook Islands string band music and would sing all night whenever the opportunity arose.
He was also a tough leader when it came to standing his ground on issues of significance to him and the government that he led.
But he was very loyal to the people he called friends and I believe I can call him friend because there were moments in his later life when he was lonely and our friendship grew much stronger.
Sir Geoffrey Henry leaves a huge legacy for the Cook Islands people and indeed some points of contention that would linger on as any great leader would.
But he never abandoned the Cook Islands or those that he loved – in particular Lady Henry, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and extended family.
It is befitting to say farewell to him – as an extraordinary man with a humble heart that beats in rhythm with the pulse of the country that he loved and treasured for all of his life.
E hano ra, e hano ra e Tahaava, e hano ra kite Papa I Savaiki - Go, go, father of the nation to Savaiki.