He was laid to rest on Saturday in Avatiu at his family home. A family spokesperson said the family was grieving, but a statement and a story about his life was forthcoming. Efforts by CINews to obtain official comment from the Democratic Party last week were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, a by-election is tipped to be held in Ivirua within a few weeks. Sources close to the electorate yesterday described the voter mood on Mangaia as “fluid” and said a Demo win was by no means a certainty.
Armstrong won the seat in a by-election in August last year, beating his CIP opponent Oromai Harry, 45 votes to 36. The by-election was caused by the retirement of long-standing politician and former Cook Islands prime minister, Jim Marurai.
In an interview with CINews shortly after his by-election win, Armstrong, who had moved to Mangaia 16 months earlier with his wife Agnes (nee Sword) said he had made the move to focus on planting and starting large orchards in the islands’ rich soil. He was enthusiastic about the potential of the island to become “the food basket of the Cook Islands” and supply produce to Rarotonga to replace expensive imported fruit and vegetables.
“I came here for something, to plant, and now this (politics) has come in. It’s another challenge but I’m looking forward to doing this.”
Asked how he found living on Mangaia, Armstrong pointed to a large group of children playing on a lawn nearby and said: “Look at them, they all walk together. Each child is welcome in any home in the village.
“It’s something charming that Rarotonga had 50 years ago when we were kids. But it’s still happening here and it works. No one goes hungry and no-one is left out.”