Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Cook Islands and New Zealand Ministers met in Aitutaki for the 7th annual Joint Ministerial Forum. This meeting is the annual high level dialogue between Cook Islands and New Zealand. The Cook Islands delegation was led by Prime Minister Puna, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minster Mark Brown, Ministers Vaine “Mac” Mokoroa and Minister Robert Tapaitau. The New Zealand delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, along with Minister Stuart Nash and Parliamentary Under Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau.
Both parties emphasised the importance of the Joint Ministerial Forum as the pre-eminent dialogue to advance issues of mutual significance. Prime Minister Puna and Deputy Prime Minister Peters both remarked on the substantial progress since the 2018 Joint Ministerial Forum; with important inroads in issues such as extending pension portability, an update on the Manatua cable and discussion enhancing links between Cook Islands and New Zealand government ministries and agencies including in the health sector.
This year’s forum was a chance to discuss new priorities and ways to enhance cooperation in areas including on infrastructure development, security, fisheries, the Pacific Island Forum and climate change. Cook Islands commented favourably on New Zealand’s efforts on addressing climate change including through the recent Zero Carbon Act. New Zealand emphasised the importance of action to address climate change in the region.
“We thank the Cook Islands Government for hosting this significant event. Our unique relationship continues to strengthen as we look for practical ways in which we can support each other,” said Deputy Prime Minister Peters.
Prime Minister Puna, in welcoming the New Zealand delegation, noted “the importance of the relationship especially as the Cook Islands approaches graduation. This is an opportunity for us to embrace graduation in a positive manner knowing that New Zealand is there with us to celebrate this momentous occasion.” Deputy Prime Minister Peters noted on the significance of graduation and congratulated Cook Islands on this development.