Pupuke Robati

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Sir Pupuke Robati

6th Speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament
In office
24 July 2001 – 15 December 2004
MonarchElizabeth II
RepresentativeFrederick Tutu Goodwin
Preceded byHarmon Pou
Succeeded byNorman George
5th Prime Minister of the Cook Islands
In office
29 July 1987 – 1 February 1989
MonarchElizabeth II
DeputyTerepai Maoate
RepresentativeSir Tangaroa Tangaroa
Preceded byTom Davis
Succeeded byGeoffrey Henry
4th Deputy Prime Minister of the Cook Islands
In office
25 July 1978 – 13 April 1983
Prime MinisterTom Davis
Preceded byApenera Short
Succeeded byGeoffrey Henry
Member of the Cook Islands Parliament
for Rakahanga
In office
20 April 1965 – 7 September 2004
Preceded byNone (Seat established)
Succeeded byPiho Rua
Personal details
Born9 April 1925
Died26 April 2009(2009-04-26) (aged 84)
Auckland, New Zealand
Resting placeRakahanga
Political partyDemocratic Party
Alma materFiji School of Medicine

Sir Pupuke Robati, KBE (9 April 1925 – 26 April 2009) was a Cook Island politician. He served as Prime Minister of the Cook Islands from 29 July 1987 to 1 February 1989.

Robati was from the island of Rakahanga. He completed his primary and secondary schooling in Manihiki and Rarotonga. He studied medicine at the Fiji School of Medicine and graduated as a surgeon in 1948.[1] On returning to the Cook Islands, he worked in Rarotonga, Mangaia, and Atiu, eventually rising to be director of public health.[2] In 1966, he received training from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Otago in New Zealand and graduated with a Diploma of Public Health.[3][4]

Political career[edit]

Robati was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Cook Islands in the 1965 election as an independent representing the district of Rakahanga. He was re-elected in the 1968 election, and in 1972 he joined the newly created Democratic Party. He was re-elected in eight more general elections as a candidate for the Democratic Party.[3]

Beginning in 1978, Robati was the Deputy Premier in the Cabinet of Premier Tom Davis. On 29 July 1987, he succeeded Davis as Prime Minister after Davis failed three times to pass a budget through Parliament.[5] During his 18 months as Prime Minister, the Parliament of the Cook Islands enacted a constitutional amendment that added a preamble to the constitution which recognised the "heritage of Christian principles" in the Cook Islands and declared that the people of the Cook Islands "remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day, being the day of the week, which, according to a person's belief and conscience, is the Sabbath of the Lord."[6]

The defeat of the Democratic Party in the election of 1989 ended Robati's tenure as Prime Minister.[7] From 2001 to 2004, he was the Speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament. In the 2004 election, Robati lost his seat to the independent candidate Piho Rua. The election was later subject to an unsuccessful electoral petition.[8] This defeat marked the end of its political career. At the time of his defeat, he was the longest serving Cook Islands MP.[3]

Robati was a boxer, and in 1944 was the Cook Islands' champion bantamweight boxer.[citation needed] He was the chair of the Cook Islands' federation of amateur boxing for more than 30 years.[2]

Robati died in Auckland, New Zealand.[2] He was buried on Rakahanga.[9]


In 1977, Robati was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal.[10] He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1991 New Year Honours. In 2001, he was promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.[11]


  1. ^ John J. Hermann (8 December 1987). Akangateiteianga: A brief record of achievements (PDF). Rarotonga: U.S.P Centre. p. 8. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "A colourful politician who held all posts". Cook Islands News. 5 May 2009 – via GaleOnefile.
  3. ^ a b c Moana Moeka’a (29 April 2009). "Former prime minister passes away". Cook Island News. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012.
  4. ^ "People". Pacific Islands Monthly. 38 (2). 1 February 1967. p. 136. Retrieved 10 July 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "Cook Islands: PM deposed after crisis". Canberra Times. 30 July 1987. p. 5. Retrieved 10 July 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "The Constitution of the Cook Islands (Reprinted as at 17 July 1997 with amendments incorporated): Preamble" (PDF). Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Coalition ousted in Cook poll". Canberra Times. 22 January 1989. p. 5. Retrieved 10 July 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "Cook Island MPs retain seats following appeals". Radio New Zealand International. 3 December 2004. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  9. ^ "State funeral service for Sir Pupuke tomorrow". Cook Islands News. 6 May 2009. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009.
  10. ^ Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). "Recipients of the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal 1977: nominal roll of New Zealand recipients including Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau". Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 432. ISBN 0-908578-34-2.
  11. ^ "FORMER COOK ISLANDS PRIME MINISTER ROBATI KNIGHTED". Racific Islands Report. 3 January 2001. Retrieved 10 July 2020.