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Media Release (OPSC)- Secretary of Ministry of Finance and Economic Management Appointed

Friday 3rd June 2022

Media Release Secretary of Ministry of Finance and Economic Management Appointed


Mr Garth Henderson has been appointed the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management – Te Tango Akatere’anga Moni o te Ipukarea for a third consecutive tenure. Henderson has worked in the Public Sector for almost 40 years beginning with the Cook Islands Police Service in June 1984.


The Public Service Commissioner, Carl Hunter acknowledged that the role of the Financial Secretary is highly complex in the sense that Henderson is managing six diverse outputs (Economic Planning, Treasury Management, Revenue Management, Cook Islands Statistics Office, Development Coordination and Major Projects Procurement Support). At the same time, Henderson has been delegated additional infrastructure oversight for some of the largest and complex capital projects like Te Mato Vai and Mei Te Vai Ki Te Vai undertaken by Government. Considering this level of responsibility, Henderson has demonstrated practical productivity to still maintain the level of achievements thus far. Commissioner Hunter remarked “As far as I am concerned, it takes a special individual in terms of a wealth of experience and understanding of both the machinery of Government and the economy in general to manage the level of responsibilities that Garth has been able to accomplish during his tenure. And I believe that the manner in which our economy has weathered the COVID-19 storm both economically and financially is testament to Mr Henderson’s all round capabilities and fiscal discipline.”


“As Government’s top finance advisor, I am appreciative of the fact that Garth’s responsibilities are constantly demanding and highly pressured from a number of fronts. Over the past 6 years, he has demonstrated good leadership and discipline in the sense that robust fiscal advice is applied to decision making that often has wide fiscal impacts. That said, Garth is highly respected by our political leaders, his peers, those who work at MFEM and within Government circles, those in the private sector, the community in general and senior officials representing our many development partners such as New Zealand and Australia and key financial institutions such as ADB.”


Mr Henderson’s eye for detail and his awareness of technical, diplomatic and political sensitivities have been a key feature of his successful oversight of a number of major infrastructure projects throughout his tenure as Financial Secretary. Some of these projects experienced significant issues that required Henderson’s strong leadership and assertiveness to negotiate the best position for the Cook Islands Government to address the numerous technical quality issues.


Henderson is very thorough with his work and demands the highest level of attention and quality from himself and those reporting to him. He has a consultative approach in seeking inputs from those he works with in putting together a plan. While Henderson is recognized as someone who works to complete projects in the shortest time possible, he is fully committed towards ensuring that the work is done as well as it can and in the long-term best interests of the Cook Islands.


It is inevitable that Henderson is a key player in multifarious Committees, given his pivotal role in Government. His contributions to the successful and effective functioning of these Committees, has been recognized both domestically and internationally.

Mr Henderson’s recruitment of a strong senior management team has allowed MFEM to grow to the stage now where MFEM as a whole is contributing more effectively across Government in key Government initiatives such as the Te Avaroa Cable and Deep Sea Minerals, to name a few, providing him with the necessary capacity to keep the overall goals of multiple programmes and projects in focus while also keeping a close eye on the details that contribute to their successful implementation.


In recommending him to Cabinet for appointment, Carl Hunter confirmed that “there is no question Henderson has honed key leadership skills, knowledge and confidence to lead one of the most important Ministries of Government”. He demonstrates sound strategic management acumen and can quickly identify and source knowledge and skills to strengthen the overall effectiveness of MFEM. He is confident and comfortable at communicating with all partners and stakeholders and keeps a sharp eye on managing issues that can affect MFEM’s desired outcomes. He has worked as the Financial Secretary for the past 6 years and his recent, and continuing, leadership of the Economic Recovery Roadmap in response to COVID-19 has been outstanding to say the least. Indeed, since commencing my role as PSC some 14 months ago I have worked closely with Garth and without question, his contributions to the Public Service, Government and country are both significant and high valued. Without question Mr Henderson has earned the trust and respect of the Minister of Finance and Cabinet through the excellent work and initiatives that he’s delivered and as Commissioner, I’m excited to continue working closely with our Financial Secretary over the next three years as he steers the country’s economy towards full recovery.”


Henderson confirmed that “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to lead MFEM for another three years in one of the most challenging periods of our history. We have built a strong and agile team in MFEM, developed excellent relationships across central agencies, with our private sector and development partners. I believe we have the confidence of our community having been at the forefront of our economic responses and support to TMO on our health responses. Despite the economic challenges we face over the next 5 years as we recover, I am confident that the strong fundamentals we have in place will prevail”.