Cook Islands PM's NZ visit cements close relationship


The Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna state visit to New Zealand once again highlighted the strength of the special relationship between the two countries.<!--more-->

[caption id="attachment_7312" align="alignleft" width="170"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-7312" src="" alt="(L-R) Mona Mato, Mrs Akaiti Henry, Cook Islands PM Henry Puna and Tepaeru Herrmann." width="170" height="104" /></a> (L-R) Mona Mato, Mrs Akaiti Puna, Cook Islands PM Henry Puna and Mrs Tepaeru Herrmann.[/caption]

Prime Minister Puna and his delegation were invited to visit New Zealand as Official Guests of the New Zealand Government.  It was part of the Cook Islands 50th Anniversary celebrations of Self Government in free association with New Zealand.  The programme from 15-24 August, was a combination of official government engagements with the NZ and NZ-based Cook Islands business community and organizations across sectors in social development.  New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key also hosted Mr Puna as a special guest to an official lunch attended by high level government officials and the Cook Islands delegation held at the Government House in Auckland.

The visit was an extension of celebrations that began in Rarotonga on 27 July to 6 August 2015, featuring the Te Maeva Nui Festival of dance and cultural performances by groups from Rarotonga, the outer islands of and Cook Islands communities in New Zealand and Australia.

In New Zealand, hundreds from the Cook Islands communities also rose to the occasion to support the Prime Minister’s delegation and celebrate during his engagements.

The Prime Minister’s business cocktail reception opened doors for members of the Cook Islands private sector to engage with the relevant agencies and organizations and explore possible future business opportunities in both New Zealand and the Cook Islands.  The evening was co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest (PT&amp;I) at the MFAT offices in Auckland as the last official event during the visit.

PT&amp;I Trade Development Manager Mr Mona Mato said the objective of the networking reception was to strengthen Cook Islands business success through the fostering of connections between Cook Islands-based businesses and New Zealand businesses and organisations.

The Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Mr Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Mr Shane Jones, Pacific Economic Ambassador welcomed the Cook Islands Prime Minister and his delegation on behalf of the New Zealand Government and MFAT.

Amongst the guests were New Zealand Pacific Island heads of agencies, business councils and members of NZ’s private sector and the Cook Islands business community in NZ.

In his opening remarks Mr Lotu-Iiga reiterated the strong relationship between New Zealand and the Cook Islands.   The Prime Minister Mr John Key, NZ cabinet ministers and NZ MPs including key agencies presence at the celebrations in the Cook Islands was a testament to the relations between the two countries he said.

“We have a number of prominent Cook Islanders involved in growing NZ’s economy and this is another form of demonstrating that relationship.”

The Pacific Economic Ambassador Matua Shane Jones added words of welcome on behalf of MFAT and the NZ/Pacific agencies.  In his speech, he spoke of the close relationship between the Cook Islands and New Zealand built on historical ties, cemented over time both culturally and economically.

“I’ve recently been to the Northern Group Islands with Minister McCully and I’m pleased to see government’s focus on building the livelihoods of the people of the outer islands.  New Zealand is in this relationship for the long haul” he said.

The Cook Islands Minister of Finance Mr Mark Brown replied on behalf of the Cook Islands Prime Minister.  He acknowledged MFAT and PT&amp;I for hosting the evening as a further demonstration of the solid relationship with NZ.  The state visit was also to explore opportunities to strengthen the cooperation between the Cook Islands government and the Cook Islands business community in New Zealand he said.

“We have come a long way and that’s not to say it has been all plain sailing.  Today we have established diplomatic relations with 43 states with a few more in the pipeline.  Engaging with global partners has been a key development by Cook Islands Government” he said.

The Cook Islands delegation consisted of the Minister of Finance, Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister, officials from the Cook Islands Investment Corporation, Tourism and Airport Authority.  They were joined by their counterparts in New Zealand, the Cook Islands High Commission’s office and the Cook Islands Consul General.

For more information please contact Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest Trade Development Manager Teremoana Mato on

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