Health and History across the Pacific Region

Dr Joseph Williams, commonly known simply as ‘Dr Joe’ at the popular Mt Wellington Integrated Health Clinic has added to his series of books over the past year relating to health, Polynesian history, memoirs and conferences


Dr Joe's Polynesian Ancestors – Te Ui Tupuna – Voyages Through the Ages covers one of the greatest migration sagas in ancient times that took centuries from five nations in four voyages across oceans and lands to the distant isles of Polynesia. When Dr Joe first entered the Cook Islands Parliament in 1968 he admitted to knowing nothing of his ancestors, except for the legend of the ancestor Ru, the first discoverer of Aitutaki, which is now part of the Cook Islands.


His interest grew in 1975 when the Conference of Tumukorero was held in Rarotonga, which inspired him to read the Vikings of the Sunrise by Sir Peter Buck. The planned one-day conference was so popular it was expanded to five full days. Convened by the Cook Islands first Prime Minister Sir Albert Henry (Papa Arapati), Dr Joe says it was one of the most captivating and fascinating conferences he has ever attended.


Papa Arapati said: “I have called you here as custodians of our traditional culture, our history, our language, legends and genealogies, to look back in search for our Avaiki. The children of the future will need to know who their ancestors were and where they came from.”


Upon returning to New Zealand in 2000, Dr Joe began recording his research findings. He wrote of the significant developments during the last years of the Colonial Era and, as a medical practitioner acknowledged local health pioneers past and present.


It was therefore appropriate to follow up by publishing Memoirs on the Last Colonial Era in the Cook Islands, which also acknowledged its past and present health pioneers, including Dr Joe, Sir Thomas Davis, Dr Robert Woonton, Sir Pupuke Robati and Dr Kiki Maoate, son of the late Sir Terepai Maoate.


The second half of 2019 saw the prolific Dr Williams publish the 21st Cook Islands Health Conference which were held in Rarotonga (10-12 July 2019) and Aitutaki (15-16 July).



The 13th Pacific Health Ministers Meeting was at Tahiti, French Polynesia from August 5-8, 2019. It was noted the very first Pacific Health Ministers Meeting was held in 1995 in Suva. It dealt with a number of issues, including the health status and disease profile of residents and the necessity to establish effective health delivery.


The Healthy Islands Vision stated a quarter of a century ago where:


• Children are nurtured in body and mind


• Environments invite learning and leisure


• People work and age with dignity


• Ecological balance is a source of pride


• The ocean which sustains us is protected


For book enquiries, please contact Toka Bates at the Mt Wellington Health Clinic Auckland - 276 8640