24 Jul 2007

NZ Foreign Minister describes former Cooks PM as a leading regional figure

7:33 pm on 24 July 2007

New Zealand's Foreign Minister has described the former Cook Islands Prime Minister Sir Tom Davis who died aged 90 early today as one of the region's leading figures.

Winston Peters says that all who knew Sir Tom will be saddened at the passing of a Cook Islander who had a scintillating career in a number of fields.

As well as being Prime Minister for nearly nine years from 1978, Sir Tom was a doctor, a Harvard graduate, a leading NASA scientist and an expert on Polynesian navigation.

The first Cook Islands medical graduate in New Zealand, he was later his country's High Commissioner in Wellington.

Mr Peters says Sir Tom did a lot for his country and the region.

"If you look at the Cook Islands today it is a very clean group of islands. They speak very fine Maori. They speak very cultured English - a very special place, and it is because of the standards set by people like Sir Tom. I think that as we look around the Pacific, in difficult times, he will be more and more missed."

Winston Peters