Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has expressed her condolences at the passing of long-serving former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
“Our thoughts are with Lady Veronica Somare and family, Prime Minister James Marape and the people of Papua New Guinea during this time of great sadness,” said Ms Ardern.
“Sir Michael Somare was an influential figure in leading Papua New Guinea to independence in 1975, when he became the country’s first Prime Minister,” she said.
”He is widely respected as Papua New Guinea’s ‘Papa blo Kantri’ – Father of the Nation – and had a leadership role as a statesman of the Pacific.”
Sir Michael was Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea from 1975-1980, 1982-1985 and 2002-2011 and served as a politician for a remarkable five decades, from 1968-2017.
“He will be deeply missed,” Ms Ardern said.
“He tai ka ripiripia te tai a te moana, arā te tai o ākeāke. Kauria te moana o whakaaro nui e te Rangatira moe mai raa – kia au te moe.”