Don McKinnon pays tribute to Joseph Kabui
9 June 2008
For Immediate Release
Former Secretary General Don McKinnon pays tribute to Bougainville President, Joseph Kabui
Former Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Don McKinnon today expressed his sadness at the passing of Joseph Kabui, president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville.
Mr McKinnon met Mr Kabui as New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs, during the peace process that followed the conflict on the island from 1989 to 1997.
Mr Kabui, the first president of autonomous Bougainville, died in hospital in Buka in the weekend.
Mr McKinnon said he was very saddened to hear of Mr Kabui's death: "I had the priviledge of working with Joseph Kabui in the peace process from the mid 1990s, first when he was in exile, through to his ultimate election as the first president of an autonomous Bougainville, and since," Mr McKinnon said.
Joseph Kabui is also godfather to Mr McKinnon and wife Clare's son James.
"He was a natural leader, committed to the cause in which he so firmly believed, and always carried people with him. He was always calm but always very determined," Mr McKinnon said.
"My sympathy goes out to his wife Rose and his four lovely daughters, his village of Sovele, and to the people of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville that he so ably led.
"He mill be missed by all those in the Pacific who had dealings with him," Mr McKinnon said.