Friday 29 January 2021 – 15:30
Cook Islands Health Minister Rose Brown earlier this week met with New Zealand Minister of Pacific People’s and Associate Minister of Health Aupito William Sio to reaffirm New Zealand’s commitment to further supporting the Cook Islands health response to COVID-19.
Minister Brown expressed the Cook Islands appreciation for the assistance received from New Zealand towards the Cook Isalnds COVID-19 response, in particular technical and financial support to strengthen health systems, the recent removal of mandatory isolation for Cook Islands arrivals into New Zealand, the invaluable ongoing health advice from New Zealand Ministry of Health officials to Te Marae Ora (TMO) officials and ongoing efforts focused on strengthening systems and personnel capabilities to support the resumption of two way quarantine free travel between the two countries. She also thanked Minister Aupito Sio for his letter received in December 2020, reaffirming the New Zealand Government’s commitment and support towards the Cook Islands access, purchase, planning and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine for the Cook Islands.
“New Zealand has been very responsive of our requests for assistance to strengthen our capabilities to respond to this pandemic, and for that, we are deeply appreciative. We look forward to the disbursement of the vaccine to ensure that our people remain COVID free, the continuation of work by our respective officials to ensure that the vaccine that we receive is effective and safe in the coming months, as well as ensuring that we are prepared for the resumption of two way quarantine free travel between our countries,” said Minister Brown.
The meeting between the Ministers is an important step in the continuation of work to not only enable resumption of two-way quarantine free travel between New Zealand and the ook Islands, but also in ensuring both populations receive the best vaccine option possible in building resilience to COVID-19. Minister Brown was supported in her discussions by High Commissioner to New Zealand, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka; Secretary of Health, Bob Williams and Consul General, Keu Mataroa.
The Ministerial meeting builds on many months of woCrk and dialogue between the two governments led for the Cook Islands by Prime Minister Mark Brown and supported by Cabinet Ministers and the Border Easement Taskforce comprising heads of agencies for the Ministry of Foreign and Immigration, TMO, the Office of the Prime Minister, Crown Law, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management and Tourism.
Following the Ministerial meeting, Cook Islands officials met with New Zealand Ministry of Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials in Wellington, for more technical and detailed discussions relating to QFT, COVID-19 vaccine and further support to strengthen the Cook Islands health system.
“These meetings build on prior Ministerial and senior officials discussions over many months and allow us to advance outstanding matters that will strengthen our resilience to mitigate against COVID-19. The face to face engagement opportunities with the likes of New Zealand’s Director General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomingfield bode well for the ongoing co-operation between our agencies and governments given our shared determination to keep our people safe from COVID-19,” said Acting Secretary of Health, Bob Williams.
According to High Commissioner Wright-Koteka, “Ministerial level discussions elevate ambition and enable focused effort and momentum in the work of officials and whilst there is much more work to be done, this week’s discussions serve to garner renewed focus and energy as both Governments strive to ensure both populations remain safe and QFT can resume as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Over the next couple of weeks, officials from both countries will continue to work to advance readiness work to enable the resumption of two way QFT as soon as its safe to do so and access to COVID-19.
Queries regarding this release to be directed to Cook Islands Deputy High Commissioner in Wellington Piakura Passfield at firstname.lastname@example.org