Noted Solomon Islands Statesman Sir Peter Kenilorea Dies

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Country’s first Prime Minister to be honored by state funeral

By Eddie Osifelo

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 26, 2016) – Statesman and the nation’s first prime minister Sir Peter Kenilorea died peacefully at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara late on Thursday, age 72.

The government is expected to hold a state funeral next week in his honour.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who is currently in Papua New Guinea, and is expected back in Honiara this afternoon, has been informed of Sir Peter’s death.

Sir Peter has been confined to his Honiara home due to an illness and old age after he retired from the Public Service in 2010.

Since the news of his passing was made known, local social media networks were inundated with tributes and messages of condolences.

Many described his passing as a "huge loss for the country".

Sir Peter carried a long list of honours under his belt.

These include membership of the Privy Council, a British knighthood, and the Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon, the highest honour that Republic of China can give any foreign citizen.

His most recent award was an Honorary Doctorate from The University of Queensland in Australia, bestowed on him in 2008.

A village boy chosen for modern education, Sir Peter was an early student at the elite King George VI School, and then trained in New Zealand as a school teacher.

In 1971 he transferred from teaching to the public service, at the request of the British government on Malaita, which wanted to accelerate training for the leaders who would take the then Protectorate through to independence.

He rose through a variety of jobs from Assistant Secretary of Finance to become a District Commissioner.

Elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1976, he became Chief Minister and Prime Minister at independence in 1978, a position he held three times between then and 1986.

He also served as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. In 2000 he returned to the Parliament, this time as Speaker where he served for two terms.

In between 1991, when he resigned from Parliament, and 2000, Sir Peter spent three years as Director of the Honiara-based Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

In 1996 he became the nation’s Ombudsman for five years, and onwards from 2000 was intimately involved in negotiating the peace process during the political crisis years, 1998-2003.

Sir Peter travelled the world, having visited 70 nations during his career.

In 2008 he published his autobiography, "Tell It As It Is", which was launched at the celebration to mark the nation’s 30th anniversary of independence.

The book was edited by University of Queensland’s Professor Clive Moore.

He was survived by wife Margaret, his seven children, and a number of grand-children.

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