Albert Royle Henry (11 June 1907 - 1 January 1981) was the first Premier of the Cook Islands and a colorful and charismatic figure in Cook Islands politics for many years. Albert Henry was a pioneer in Cook Islands politics, and a driving force behind Cook Islands self-government, which it obtained on 4 August 1965. Henry founded the Cook Islands Party after returning from living in New Zealand for 22 years from 1942-1964. Shortly after his return he was elected Premier in 1965 in the first national elections, and then re-elected consistently in 1968, 1972, 1974 and again controversially in March 1978.
Albert Henry's achievements include enlarging Rarotonga's airport (Queen Elizabeth II officiated at the grand opening), building the Rarotongan Resort (now the Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa) and helping to turn the Cook Islands into a significant international tourist destination.
But his most passionate achievement was to introduce a Universal Old Age Pension Scheme in 1966 in which every person 65 years and over, received a small government sponsored pension at that time being 2 pounds NZ per month. The Cook Islands is still the only South Pacific nation that has such a scheme.
For his achievements, Henry was knighted in 1974 by Queen Elizabeth II, shortly after the opening of Rarotonga International Airport.
Bill Johnson - Johnsons' Photography Rarotonga