Media 8 Apr 2021
New Zealand has recently had the honour of hosting its first official visit since we were faced with the realities of COVID, and as our Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon Nanaia Mahuta so aptly referred to during her speech at the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs function in Parliament on 29 March, this visit was from one of New Zealand's closest and most special partners: the Cook Islands.
Minister Mahuta said in her speech, "As well as our political, economic, cultural and social bonds, we have enduring whakapapa links; we are part of the same realm; we have a special constitutional relationship; we share the same New Zealand citizenship; and there are more than 80 000 Cook Islanders living in Aotearoa – represented in our Parliament and here tonight are the Honourable Poto Williams, Tangi Utikere and Teanau Tuiono.
"During this era of COVID, we have seen just how strong the bonds between our two countries truly are. Together we have been able to successfully navigate what COVID has thrown at us, and even seize back some normality – including through the resumption of one-way quarantine-free travel from the Cook Islands to New Zealand,” Minister Mahuta said.
Prime Minister for the Cook Islands, the Honourable Mark Brown, Mrs Brown and their accompanying delegation, touched down in New Zealand on 25 March, and during their stay, Hon Brown attended a series of meetings and engagements, including with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern where they discussed, the planned rollout of vaccinations for the Cook Islands and a timeline for a two-way quarantine-free travel.
In a Cook Islands News column the previous week, Prime Minister Mark Brown wrote that the tiny country was spending about $7m a month in wage subsidies and grants for struggling businesses.
During his New Zealand visit, he suggested 1 May as a possible date for a two way travel bubble between the Cook Islands and New Zealand to commence.
Check out Talanoa with Tupe's exclusive interview (above) with the Cook Islands Prime Minister Hon Mark Brown about his life, family, leadership style and a wide range of political issues affecting the Blue Pacific region.
Image: Newsroom - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown hongi, in the first face to face meeting with another head of government that either leader has had in 12 months because of Covid border closures. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images