Economic resilience and health security are priorities that Cook Islands Prime Minister the Hon. Mark Brown is looking to discuss when New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Winston Peters visits Rarotonga next week.
The one-day visit program on 7 February for DPM Peters, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs , will include bilateral talks hosted by Prime Minister Brown, a groundbreaking ceremony for the Punanga Nui Farmers Market, a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition the Hon. Tina Browne and a Waitangi Day reception to be hosted by New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, HE Tui Dewes.
“DPM Peters has had a long association with the Cook Islands and I’m looking forward to catching up with him to discuss how we might focus our forward co-operation on economic and climatic resilience, enhancing health and well-being outcomes for our peoples, and extending our defence and security co-operation arrangements in a manner which supports our shared and separate development aspirations,” said Prime Minister Brown.
It is expected discussions will build on joint aspirations as articulated most recently in the Waka Hourua/Vaka Purua Partnership Arrangement signed by the two nations in October 2022 covering the period 2022-2025. It is also anticipated that discussions next week will inform the work of officials leading up to the annual Joint Ministerial Forum to be hosted by New Zealand later this year.
“New Zealand continues to be our most important economic partner and while our economic recovery is tracking steadily, it is imperative that together with New Zealand, we take an innovative approach to future development co-operation if we are to overcome the acute labour retention and recruitment challenges, the costs of supporting a very small population base spread over a widely dispersed sea of islands and crippling prohibitions on the Cook Islands access to public infrastructure finance by development partners and Multilateral Development Banks,” said Prime Minister Brown.
New Zealand is now home to some 80,000 Cook Islanders, most of whom reside in Auckland and Wellington with pockets of communities spread across the breadth of Aotearoa
DPM Peters will be accompanied by Health Minister the Honourable Dr Shane Reti and health co-operation talks are planned following a tour of the Rarotonga Hospital. It is also expected the two will discuss regional matters, including forward priorities determined by Pacific Leaders during their meeting hosted by the Cook Islands in November 2023.
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- The Waka Hourua/Vaka Purua Partnership Arrangement can be viewed at link chrome- chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://mfai.gov.ck/sites/default/files/2022-10/Aotearoa_NewZealand-Kuki%27A%CC%88irani-TheCookIslands-Signed-13-Oct020.pdf
- The 53rd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Communique can be viewed at link https://www.forumsec.org/2023/11/09/reports-piflm52-communique-of-the-52nd-pacific-islands-leaders-forum-2023/