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Helen Henry

Helen Henry

Helen’s Lecture Topic : Reflections on 50 Years of Living on a Pacific Island

The Cook Islands gained self-governance in 1965. Following the nation's inaugural general election, the late Sir Albert Henry assumed the role of the first Prime Minister. Shortly thereafter, Helen and her late husband Hugh, the second son of Albert Henry, made the decision to move from New Zealand to the Cook Islands, with the aim of contributing to the growth of the fledgling island nation.

Helen and Hugh touched down in August 1969, accompanied by their four young sons. They swiftly integrated into the local community. Helen played a pivotal role in establishing a Pre-school Learning Centre, served on the local primary school committee, held the position of President of the Hospital Comforts Committee, and was the Patron of the Cook Islands Breast Cancer Foundation. As her family matured, so too did her interests. She took on the role of Secretary for the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce, became the President (and later, Patron) of the Business and Professional Women’s Association, and joined the international organization, Pan Pacific South East Women’s Association.

For an extended period, Helen and Hugh managed an inbound tourism enterprise, and additionally arranged ongoing Cook Islands’ excursions and educational programs for Elderhostel and Pacific Island Travel Groups.

Now in retirement, Helen continues her role as Director of the family-owned Tamanu Beach Resort, situated on the island of Aitutaki, renowned for its world-class lagoon. Should you pay a visit to the Resort, you may encounter Helen tending to the tropical gardens, weeding, and pruning.

In the early part of 2013, Helen released her memoir, "My Kotuku of the South Seas: Living and Loving in Rarotonga". A German version was published in 2017. Helen is nearing completion of her second book, "Come Travel with Me: In Countries from A to Z".

Helen takes great pleasure in the fact that all four of her sons reside and work in the Cook Islands. Her daughter, Katherine, lives in Portland, Oregon, but frequently returns to reconnect with her 'island girl' roots. Helen is a proud grandmother to 17 and great-grandmother to 25. Helen is now blissfully married to John Hay. They share a passion for travel and reside on Rarotonga, the main island of the Cook Islands. Helen encourages everyone to visit the Cook Islands and 'experience Heaven while still on Earth'.