The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in free association with New Zealand. The fifteen small islands in this South Pacific Ocean country have a total land area of 240 square kilometres (92.7 sq mi), but the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers 1.8 million square kilometres (0.7 million sq mi) of ocean.
The main population centres are on the island of Rarotonga (14,153 as of 2006), where there is an international airport. There is also a much larger population of Cook Islanders in New Zealand, particularly the North Island. In the 2006 census, 58,008 self-identified as being of ethnic Cook Island Māori descent.
With over 90,000 visitors travelling to the islands in 2006, tourism is the country's number one industry, and the leading element of the economy, far ahead of offshore banking, pearls, marine and fruit exports.
Defence is the responsibility of New Zealand, in consultation with the Cook Islands and at its request. In recent times, the Cook Islands have adopted an increasingly independent foreign policy. Cook Islanders are nationals of New Zealand: there is no "Cook Islands citizenship".
The Coook Islands adopted in 1982, upon free association status, a territorial anthem "Te Atua Mou'e" (God is Truth). The lyrics were written by Lady Pa Tepaeru Te Rito Ariki Davis and music composed by Sir Thomas Davis.
Sir Thomas "Tom" Robert Alexander Harries Davis KBE (June 11, 1917 – July 23, 2007) was a Prime Minister of the Cook Islands and a medical researcher.
Davis was born on the island of Rarotonga, his full name being Thomas Robert Alexander Harries Davis. He was the first Cook Islands medical graduate in New Zealand, finishing his studies at Otago in 1945. He then served as Medical Officer in the Cook Islands working to improve the country's health system.
In 1952, he went to Harvard University, initially completing a Master of Public Health, before joining their Department of Nutrition. Subsequently, he worked for various parts of the armed forces as a research physiologist, before joining NASA to work on the space program.
Sir Tom was a founder of the Cook Islands Democratic Party in 1971, and became opposition leader in 1972, going on to serve as Prime Minister from July 25, 1978 until April 13, 1983, and following the short first tenure of Geoffrey Henry, again from November 16, 1983 until July 29, 1987, when he left office while the Democratic Party was still in power.
On 3 Aug 1986 Davis became the first head of government to formally consult with the Universal House of Justice. He later went on to serve as High Commissioner to New Zealand. Davis married Pa Terito Ariki, who had become a Bahá'í in the 1950s; sometime after 1986, Davis joined the Bahá'í Faith. Davis was knighted in 1981. The University of Otago awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2005.
Above is a stamp of Sir Thomas Davis issued on Commonwealth Day 1983.