12 Sep 2020

Former Cook Islands PM hailed as a hero at state memorial

12:23 pm on 12 September 2020

The former Cook Islands prime minister, Joe Williams, has been hailed as a national hero.

Dr Williams, who worked as a physician in Auckland, died of Covid-19 last week, aged 82.

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Photo: NZ government

He had been continuing work as a doctor, helping the Pacific community amid the coronavirus outbreak in Auckland.

At a state memorial serivce for Dr Williams at the national auditorium in Rarotonga on Satuday morning (NZT), current prime minister Henry Puna paid tribute.

"Papa Joe had a remarkable career of many highlights, but it was the essence of a man who cared and wanted to serve people that puts him in the good company of our national heroes," he said.

"It was this essence of caring that was to ultimately cost him his life."

Henry Puna said Dr Joe Williams touched the lives of many people.

"That one of our own sons could have impacted and touched the lives of so many is simply outstanding."

How proud we all are to have had him among us as a Cook Islander, to have had him as a doctor, to lead us as a politician, and to serve our community as a mentor of knowledge and ideas," Puna said.