A public memorial service is being planned for Auckland general practitioner Dr Joe Williams, who will be farewelled at a small service this week.

The 85-year-old, a well-known Pacific health leader and doctor within the Cook Islands community, died on September 4 after contracting Covid-19.

His death was announced hours after the news broke of the death of Americold worker Alan Te Hiko, 58, whose younger brother Nigel Te Hiko, 54, died from the virus on Tuesday.

A message released by the Williams family has thanked the local community and wider New Zealand public for the outpouring of love and support they had received since their father's death.

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Dr Joe Williams served as the Cook Islands Prime Minister in 1999. Photo / Williams family
Dr Joe Williams served as the Cook Islands Prime Minister in 1999. Photo / Williams family

"The messages from New Zealand, throughout the Pacific and around the world have been heart-warming and of great comfort to the family."

A public memorial service is being planned for those in Auckland next month, after current Covid-19 restrictions are expected to be lifted.

The Pasifika Medical Association and the Cook Islands Development Agency NZ is due to host the event for Williams, who is also a former Cook Islands Prime Minister.

Williams' family will hold a small private service for their loved one in Auckland this week. He will be laid to rest in Meadowbank.

"It is especially important to the family that health and safety requirements are observed, so only those specifically invited by the family to attend will be allowed access."

It is still not known how Williams, known to many as Papa Joe, caught the virus.

However, his medical practice - which served more than 15,000 patients - is not far from the Americold coolstore, in Mt Wellington, where the index case linked to the August cluster worked at.

Papa Joe, known as the eczema guru, attracted people from all around the country needing help to deal with the skin ailment.

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Williams is survived by wife Jill, his children Karin, Richard, Joanna and Jamie, six grandchildren and sister Manuae Scheel.

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