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.
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.