Rarotonga, Cook Islands, 2 June 2023 - The Cook Islands Government has welcomed additional budget support of NZ$15 million from the Government of New Zealand to support the Cook Islands' economic recovery efforts as the Cook Islands continue to expand airlinks and increase air uplift while grappling with supply-side constraints and inflationary pressures exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The budget support was confirmed during the first in-person meeting between Cook Islands Prime Minister, the Hon. Mark Brown, and Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Right Hon. Chris Hipkins, in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG) on Monday, 22 May, in the margins of the PNG hosted Pacific Leaders meetings with India Prime Minister Nahendra Modi and United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken.
This is the fifth financial grant the New Zealand Government has provided to support the Cook Islands' COVID-19 response and recovery efforts since 2020, bringing New Zealand financial support to the Cook Islands this year to $21.4 million.
"New Zealand has been steadfast in its health and financial support to the Cook Islands since the COVID onset, and this further assistance is a testament to our relationship and New Zealand's appreciation of the particular economic and social challenges the Cook Islands have to contend with as we strive to be innovative and expansionary in our economic recovery efforts," said Prime Minister Brown.
"This additional support will help ensure our government's ongoing delivery of essential public services that continue to safeguard our people while at the same time stepping up support to the private sector to stimulate and grow our economy."
During bilateral talks in Port Moresby, Prime Minister Brown and Prime Minister Hipkin also discussed regional cooperation, including the Cook Islands priorities as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and hosting of the PIF Leaders Meeting in Rarotonga and Aitutaki in November.
Prime Minister Brown continued bilateral and regional discussions with New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta in the margins of the Republic of Korea-Pacific Islands Leaders Summit held in Seoul and Busan on 29 May. Their discussions follow the visit to Rarotonga and Manihiki by Minister Mahuta in October 2022, where the two governments signed a Statement of Partnership named 'Waka Hourua/Vaka Purua' committing to deepen and expand bilateral and cooperation across an array of areas.
"Among the gifts of COVID for the Cook Islands has been a recalibration of existing relationships and expansion of our international engagement," said Prime Minister Brown.
"My recent discussions with Prime Minister Hipkins and Foreign Minister Mahuta affirm our relationship with New Zealand and our shared enduring commitment to supporting each other's shared and separate development aspirations amidst the volatile world we exist in to ensure our governments continue to provide for our people today and into the future."
For further insight into the Cook Islands' forward priorities, including New Zealand partnerships, see Prime Minister Brown's Budget Speech tabled here: https://www.mfem.gov.ck/images/MFEM_Documents/Budget_Books/2023-24/2023-24_Minister_of_Finances_Budget_Speech.pdf
For further insight into Aotearoa, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands Statement of Partnership 'Waka Hourua/Vaka Purua' go here: https://mfai.gov.ck/sites/default/files/2022-10/Aotearoa_NewZealand-Kuki%27A%CC%88irani-TheCookIslands-Signed-13-Oct020.pdf