9 April 2021
“On behalf of the Cook Islands Government and people I join other Commonwealth and world leaders in offering condolences to Her Majesty The Queen, the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom on the passing of their much-loved Duke of Edinburgh.
“A remarkable man who led an extraordinary life of service and duty that lasted almost a century. A life dedicated to public service to his country, The Crown and beyond until his retirement four years ago at 95 years of age at which time he was the president or patron of more than 780 different organisations.
“A life dedicated to supporting his wife, The Queen through their marriage of over 73 years. A life that has seen so much change. A life through which he chose to be at the forefront of many initiatives, including those to do with the environment for which he had a lifelong passion. His commitment to youth was firmly entrenched when he established the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Scheme in 1956. Those of us who have attended secondary schools in New Zealand may well remember this programme, that aims to give students a lift and sense of achievement based on physical activity, skills, and development opportunities. A life which has left a wonderful legacy.
“Whilst the Queen and Prince Philip visited Rarotonga in January 1974, when the Queen officially opened our International Airport, that was not Prince Philip’s first visit here. His first visit was in early 1971 when accompanied by his Uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten and other family members they arrived aboard Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia. The official Cook Islands Government photographer at the time, Bill Johnson was able to capture the essence of that visit so well.”
“Our thoughts are with the Queen and her family, who on the occasion of their golden wedding anniversary said it best when she of her husband and the longest-serving consort in British history “we owe him a debt greater than he will ever claim or we will ever know.”
“As a sign of respect and to mark the death of His Royal Highness, I have asked for the Cook Islands flag on all Government and public buildings to be flown at half-mast.”