REMARKS: SG Puna at ceremonial welcome for Forum Chair, Cook Islands PM Brown to Secretariat

Welcome Address

H.E Henry Puna, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum

Traditional Ceremonies of Welcome for the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Hon Mark Brown


  • Salutations and greetings – Cook Islands Maori
  • The Honourable Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum
  • The Honourable Sitiveni Rabuka, Prime Minister of Fiji and member of the Pacific Islands Forum Troika
  • Honourable Ministers present here this evening
  • Representatives of our Forum Member States
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corp
  • Representatives of our Regional Agencies, and Development Partners
  • Ladies and Gentlemen


Kia Orana, ni sa bula Vinaka and welcome to your Secretariat.

  • It is not often that we welcome an incumbent Forum Chair to the Secretariat. In the last year alone, I have served this distinct pleasure three times.
  • As the adage goes, the third time’s a charm – and I am indeed honoured to have the very rare privilege of welcoming the Forum Chair and the Prime Minister of my country, the Honourable Mark Brown here this evening.
  • We have just witnessed the traditional ceremonies of welcome from our iTaukei community.
  • To echo the sentiments of Prime Minister Rabuka earlier this year, our cultures as represented this evening through the traditional ceremonies, reaffirms the foundation and history of our relations as a Forum Family. It sets us apart as a region and as a pacific people and reaffirms our uniqueness more globally.
  • Wherever we may be in the world, the symbolism of our culture in our traditional protocols should always drive home a reminder for each of us, of the people we represent, the region we serve and the future we fight to create for the generations to come.
  • Prime Minister,
  • As you assumed the role of Forum Chair in February this year, you assumed a leadership role for our region more broadly – and it is one that is not without its own complexities.
  • I trust that you will always remain mindful and confident in the support of our Forum Membership and its Secretariat in the execution of your role on behalf of the Forum Family.
  • As we welcome you here today, in your official capacity as Forum Chair, I am also reminded that 52 years ago, on this day in Wellington, seven of the nations in this room signed off on the 1st Forum communique.
  • Moving forward, I would hope that more of our member nations mark this day, August 7th as the day for remembrance of the founding values of the Pacific Way:
  • Of our strength in our collective solidarity.
  • Of our aspirations rooted in our traditions and respect of our cultures, and in the legacy we leave for the generations to come.
  • Of the need to stand on both these principles as we navigate these uncertain times, with a certainty of purpose.
  • 52 years ago today, economic development for our South Pacific Islands nations was a core focus of the Wellington meeting and more so, the early years of this forum.
  • As we gather here, on the eve of the 2023 Forum Economic Ministers Meeting I am heartened by the collective efforts of our Forum family in the last year as we have worked to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • I am also encouraged by the clear vision and direction that you have identified for your tenure – to promote our Pacific Voices and People, and our Pacific Way, through partnerships for prosperity that ensure our realities are at the centre.
  • Yes, the challenges ahead of us remain complex, but it is in collective opportunities such as the Ministerial Meeting this week, that we can shape and learn from each other to guide our region forward.
  • Forum Chair, Honourable Prime Minister, Ministers, and Distinguished Guests,
  • With those few words, allow me to reaffirm the sentiments that we have just witnessed this evening and welcome you Prime Minister Brown and your delegation to your Secretariat.
  • I look forward to the discussions over the next few days at both the Forum Economic Ministers as well as the Forum Leaders Troika later this week.
  • Turou, oro mai, your Pacific family welcomes you. –END


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