The Pacific Forum 2012: Opening Session

The Cook Islands was home this year for the 43rd Pacific Forum, which brought together almost all of the heads of state of the Pacific Islands, including New Zealand and Australia.

The Opening Session was held at the National Auditorium in Rarotonga, and was a stunning success, the likes of which long time observers of the Forum have never seen.

Now, here, you can see a bit of it too…

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna [right] and Deputy Prime Minister Tom Marsters [left] welcome Mr. Toke Tufukia Talagi, Premier of Niue.

Welcoming...

Cook Islands officials weren’t the only one in a welcoming mood…

Feeling the mood...

Ready for a good time...

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was borne in, as were most of the Heads of State, on a traditional pa’ata, by strong Cook Islanders.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key

French Polynesian President Oscar Temaru “busted a move” on the way in…

President of French Polynesia Oscar Temaru

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was totally at home on her pa’ata

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

She was welcomed… and amused… by Prime Minister Henry Puna.

Prime Ministers Gillard and Puna

Prime Ministers Gillard and Puna

The National Auditorium audience was ready

Cook Islanders... having fun.

And they were not disappointed, with tuneful Prime Ministerial singing…

Now, THIS was fun... the dude can sing.

…and beautiful dancing from Ms. Cook Islands, Teuira Napa.

Teuira Napa, Miss Cook Islands

Of course, there were speeches, but the coolest speech outfit was our Prime Minister’s…

PM Henry Puna

Then it was time to get down with the amazing – seriously – dancers of Tereora College.

Just look…

Tereora College

Tereora College

Tereora College

Tereora College

Tereora College

Tereora College

Standing Ovation!

After these festivities, dinner was served… elegantly.

Pacific Forum 2012

Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia found the time during dinner to meet and take pictures with her “paired” local school.

PM Julia Gillard with Cook Islands students

PM Julia... having fun... lovely.

 This was all a great start to a wonderful event for the Cook Islands… for the South Pacific… for the world.