A strategic mind, a heart to serve and a sense of humour: Remembering Hon. Nandi Glassie

The Cook Islands and the wider health community have suffered another major loss this week after former Cook Islands Minister of Health and strong advocate for the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA), the Honourable Nandi Glassie, passed away over the weekend.

Mr Glassie lost his battle with cancer a day after the death of former Cook Islands Prime Minister and PMA patron, Dr Joe Williams MBChB, MPH, QSM, QSO.

Born in the Cook Islands and educated in New Zealand, Mr Glassie established a long career as a public servant for organisations like the New Zealand Department of Labour and the Manukau City Council before being elected into the Cook Islands parliament in 2006, becoming the Minister of Health. During his term Mr Glassie launched a mental health strategy, a health workforce plan and represented the Pacific at many international health conventions.  

PMA Chief Executive, Debbie Sorensen, worked with Mr Glassie when they were both with the Counties Manukau District Health Board and says he was a huge supporter of the PMA and its work to improve the health and well-being of Pacific families.  

“During his time as the Health Minister for the Cook Islands, he hosted a number of international health meetings, where we all spent a lot of time together. He was critical in bringing the whole of the Pacific health ministers’ group together and was very clear about the need for our Pasifika community to determine our own pathway forward in the health sector. This demonstrated an incredible strategic foresight to understand that as a group, we had a lot of power when we worked together.”

On a personal level, Mrs Sorensen says Glassie was a great friend and knew how to have fun.

“He was well known for his sense of humour and his ability to hold a room and tell a very good joke. He was incredibly generous and very kind.”

She says this is a devastating week for the Pacific community after losing two great men in a short space of time.

“This is a very sad time for their families, the people of the Cook Islands and the wider health sector. It’s also difficult because of the Covid-19 restrictions and not being able to grieve and mourn in our usual way.

We remember two men who have lived a true life of service to their country and community. They were inspirational and their work encourages all of us to follow in their example.”


Tuesday 08 September 2020