The Leaderboard: Henry Puna

The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific. This post features Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands.

Who is he?

Henry Puna is the prime minister of the Cook Islands and leader of the Cook Islands Party. He assumed office on November 30, 2010 after his party secured 16 of the Cook Islands Parliament’s 24 Seats. Henry Puna was educated in law at Auckland University and the University of Tasmania and is also a pearl farmer by trade. He is the member of parliament for Manihiki.

Henry Puna of the Cook Islands at the 2011 Pacific Island Forum. Source: Wikimedia Commons' Alexwinkler, used under a creative commons license.

Why is he in the News?

The most populous Island in the Cook Islands chain, Rarotonga, will be hosting the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) from August 27 – 31. Henry Puna has been in the media for his involvement in preparing for the slated visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the PIF. Furthermore, he announced the theme of this year’s PIF; Large Ocean Island States – The Pacific Challenge. The theme focuses on the interlocking concepts of sustainable development and the protection of the Pacific ocean.

What can we expect from him?

The Cook Islands are a part of the British Commonwealth and are freely associated with New Zealand, which controls its foreign and defense policy with the Cook Islands’ consent. Despite this the Cook Islands have an autonomous voice in the Pacific Islands Forum, particularly through the forum’s sub-group of the Smaller Island States (SIS). At the PIF we can expect that Henry Puna will strongly support the conference theme by announcing a new marine park in the Cook Islands and by pushing his sustainable development agenda of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2020. As a part of the SIS grouping, we can expect Puna to support efforts to create a development fund that will collect and direct foreign aid to specific development projects.

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1 comment for “The Leaderboard: Henry Puna

  1. Tereapii Tura
    August 23, 2012 at 05:49

    I am a Cook Islander and I have no interest in U.S administrative support of any kind! Leave us alone. We have had the British, than New Zealand administrative support so we do not need anymore support. We as a nation will not support the U.S administration in any shape or form. We are not immune from the international media that reports 50% of all U.S citizens are on welfare and America has turned into a military state. The government need to focus on looking after their own back yard, please dont give us money or help, we want you to feed, clothe, house and restore health and justice with your own people first.

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