The Cook Islands opposition leader, Wilkie Rasmussen, says the former Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Henry, set the benchmark for the country's parliamentarians.
Sir Geoffrey served as Prime Minister for a brief period in 1983, and was again prime minister from 1989 to 1999.
He was speaker of the Cooks Island Parliament at the time of his death overnight.
Mr Rasmussen says despite their political differences, he and Sir Geoffrey got on well.
"He was a man I respected very much because of his ability to engage in discussions about anything topic, and of course, I admired his oratory skills. And he was one of a kind, honestly, in the Cook Islands and probably around the region."
The Cook Islands opposition leader, Wilkie Rasmussen.