12 Aug 2008

Tributes for former head of Pacific Islands Forum

5:28 pm on 12 August 2008

The work of the former secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Greg Urwin, who died at the weekend, has been praised by New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Mr Urwin, who headed the forum until earlier this year, died in Samoa after suffering for months with cancer and heart problems.

Miss Clark says he was a tireless worker for the Pacific, and there will be great sadness across the region at news of his death.

She praised his efforts in handling sensitive situations, such as the Fiji coup, and his achievements in implementing the Pacific Plan on regional co-operation.

The former Australian diplomat's appointment as secretary-general was contentious because there was an informal understanding that Australia and New Zealand would not hold the top position.

Canterbury University political scientist John Henderson says Mr Urwin quickly defused any tension, and won the co-operation and admiration of the people he worked for.