The funeral of Sir Tom Davis
The Cook Islander Tom Davis earned his doctorate at Harvard University in Boston. In the sixties he worked for NASA, at the biological department of the space program. He led the ‘monkeys into space’-project. Once he saved a test-monkey's life by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Papa Tom Davis was Prime Minister of the Cook Islands twice. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1980. He was an ocean sailor and designed the vaka boats Takitumu and Te au o tonga. In 1987 he became High Commissioner, at the age of 87 was the oldest diplomat in the world. He wrote his autobiography 'Island boy' in 1992. In july 2007 he died at the age of 90.
Pa Tuterangi Ariki Sir Tom Davis got a state funeral
He was interred at the Avarua Cook Islands Christian Church cemetery...
...in a tomb with his mother Mary Ann Tepurotu Araitia
Among the officials were the prime minister of the Cook Islands and president Gaston Tong Sang of French Polynesia
The funeral combined Christian and traditional Maori rituals
Pastor Ngarima George was there in traditional costume
In his words and emotions he welcomed the body and the spirit and acknowledged its journey...
...the te rerenga wairua, to his ancestors in the homeland Hawaiki
Maori believe that even when the body is no longer alive...
...the spirit stays present and is aware of everything that goes around
The te whaikorero spoke the symbolic tauparapara or whakatau...
...in which the body is told of its sacredness and the spirit is led to the afterworld
The spirit stays near the body until burial and is present to witness
Maori usually wish to return to their whanau urupa, to be taken home
Cook Islanders are well known for their hospitality
We were even invited to attend the funeral meal...
...which consisted of a rich variety of tropical foods...
...such as Aitutakian sea-grapes, kumara, taro and arrowroot