This month marks the 30th year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and New Zealand and the two government marked the occasion with a reception hosted by Australia High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Phoebe Smith at her residence in Nikao last week. The gathering, held on Australia Day, served to remind the partnership successes and lessons of the past and opportunities for co-operation into the future.
Most of the 30,000 Cook Islanders now resident in Australia have made their homes in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, and Western Australia. They have assimilated into Australian communities adding cultural and social richness to the fabric of Australia society. They continue to enrich Australia’s economy through their work in primary industries, construction, manufacturing, tourism, trade, sports, education, health, government and beyond.
High Commissioner Smith, in her remarks, launched the Stories of Friendship Initiative, to celebrate many of the individuals who have contributed to the bods between the Cook Islands and Australia.
Cook Islands Prime Minister the Hon. Mark Brown focused his remarks on the ‘Oa Tumanava’ Partnership signed by the two governments in 2022. ‘Oa Tumanava’ details five pillars for future co-operation between the Cook Islands and Australia.
Amongst several initiatives proposed for future co-operation, Prime Minister Brown sought equal sporting opportunities availed to other Pacific nations for Cook Islanders and progression to fruition superannuation portability arrangements. Towards achieving greater prosperity, Prime Minister Brown called on Australia to afford the Cook Islands equivalent access to other Pacific nations available through Australia’s grant funding facilities. He announced the immigration policy change approved by the Cook Islands Cabinet last week to enable Australian passport holders a 90-day visitor visa and permit on arrival.
Significantly, Prime Minister Brown proposed a trilateral defence and security co-operation arrangement between the Cook Islands, New Zealand, and Australia. In addition to the Cook Islands defence and security arrangements with New Zealand, he said “Such a trilateral arrangement would in our view encapsulate the existing multi-decade areas of security cooperation with Australia including through the Defence Co-operation Program, the Pacific Maritime Security Program, and regional mechanisms such as the Pacific Transnational Crime Network.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAI) will continue to lead the Cook Islands co-ordination of engagement with the government of Australia. This 30th year anniversary will likely include a number of high-level engagements as the two governments endeavour bring to further fruition their shared aspirations detailed in ‘Oa Tumanava’
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Pic: L-R: MFAI Director International Affairs and Trade Mackenzi Wichman; Prime Minister the Hon. Mark Brown; High Commissioner Phoebe Smith and Cook Islands Assistant Minister Foreign Affairs the Hon. Tingika Elikana
Prime Minister Brown’s remarks can be accessed at chrome- chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://mfai.gov.ck/sites/default/files/2024-01/PM%20Brown%20remarks%2030th%20anniversary%20Australia%20and%20the%20Cook%20Islands%20Jan%2024.pdf
‘Oa Tumana Partnership arrangement can be accessed at chrome-extension: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://mfai.gov.ck/sites/default/files/2022-10/Oa-Tumanava-Partnership-CookIslands-to-Australia.pdf