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[Media Release - MFAI]

Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration

Thursday 27th February 2020

Cook Islands New Zealand National Conference - E iti tangata 'anga'anga kapiti e te puapinga

Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand Elizabeth

Wright-Koteka addressed the annual Cook Islands New Zealand Conference held in Auckland earlier this week.

The 2 day conference was coordinated and hosted by CIDANZ, the Cook Islands Development Agency New Zealand that is Chaired by Henry Herman with Chief Executive being Rouruina Emile-Brown

The Conference, themed ‘E Iti Tangata Angaanga Kapiti e te Puapinga’, was attended by Cook Islands community leaders from Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Tokoroa, Hawkes Bay, Whanganui, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

Discussions involved the provision of regional updates and sharing of successes, challenges and aspirations from the various Cook Islands communities across New Zealand. The gathering also enabled participants to focus on ways to promote the success of Cook Islanders in their own regions and collectively, in the priority areas of succession planning, economic sustainability, and language and culture. Feedback from the regional leaders resonated with the theme of the conference and support for CIDANZ’s vision to ‘unite and prosper’ our Cook Islands people living in Aotearoa was unanimous.

The leaders of the regions signed a Charter agreeing that: “We come together today to affirm our shared cooperative values and responsibilities for each other: Kua matuapuru mai tatou i teia ra i te akatinamou i to tatou irinakianga taokotai ei utuutu rai ia tatou rai”. See conference program and the charter on CIDANZ website at

High Commissioner Wright-Koteka was able to present to the Conference the draft Cook Islands Government Diaspora Engagement Strategy: ‘Itikianga Iti Tangata. Development of the Strategy is one of the actions under the Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Statement of Strategic Intentions 2019-2024. Specifically, under the Prosperity pillar, to ‘Coordinate the development of an all-Government engagement strategy for strengthening links with the Cook Islands diaspora and those studying abroad, to encourage Cook Islanders to strengthen their economic, investment and other ties to the country’.

The development of the Strategy will include consultations by both the High Commission and the Cook Islands Consulate in Auckland with Diaspora community groups, individuals and tertiary students as well as Cook Islands community consultation findings by the New Zealand Ministry of Pacific Peoples.

“The Conference and consequent interactions availed an invaluable opportunity to garner insight into our Cook Islands Communities in New Zealand. The Diaspora can be an important conduit, facilitating the two way flow of capital in every form – human, social, intellectual, cultural or financial and as a Government and a people, we need to move beyond the ‘brain drain’ mentality to ‘brain exchange’ in a productive cycle where circularity should now be an important feature of our national development efforts,” stated the High Commissioner. Appropriate feedback from the Conference will be incorporated into the drafting of the Strategy before the last round of circulation to key stakeholders and onwards to the Cook Islands Government for approval.

Queries regarding this release, and development of the strategy can be directed to Ms Piakura Passfield at

Pictures – Top to Bottom

Pic 1 – L-R: CIDANZ CE Rouruina Emile-Brown; Dr. Tearikivao Maoate, Chair, Pacific Medical Association; Mata Tumu-Makara, CIDANZ Trustee; Henry Herman, Chair, CIDANZ Board of Trustees; Pic 2 – Pa Tepaeru Teariki Upokotini Marie Ariki seated at front, amongst other Conference participants Pic 3 – Hamilton Cook Islands Community representatives


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