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[Media Release - MFAI]

Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki - Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration


Covid-19 Alert Level 2 in New Zealand force changes to Cook Islands Diplomatic Offices


22 March 2020


With the announcement of Covid-19 Alert Level 2 by the New Zealand Government on Saturday 21 March 2020 (New Zealand time), the Cook Islands Government has by necessity revised service provision at both of its New Zealand based Diplomatic Offices – the Cook Islands High Commission in Wellington as well as the Cook Islands Consulate in Auckland.

Further information on New Zealand’s Covid-19 Alert Level 2 can be found at https://www.health.govt.nz/…/dis…/covid-19-novel-coronavirus


In effect, Covid-19 Alert Level 2 for New Zealand means the corona virus is contained, but the risk of community transmission is growing due to the rising number of cases. Recommendations and efforts are currently focused on slowing down the spread of the corona disease through various measures announced by the New Zealand Government aimed at persons in New Zealand reducing contact with one another.

“The health and safety of those who work and visit our offices in New Zealand are our highest priorities,” said Tepaeru Herrmann, Secretary of Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.


Cook Islands Consulate services, Manukau, South Auckland


In line with New Zealand Government advice, and the call for increased social distancing, the Auckland Consulate will from tomorrow, Monday 23rd March 2020, move to remote working. This means that the Consulate will be closed to the public, but will remain available for reduced Consulate services via phone and email. All queries for the Consulate should be either telephoned through to Executive Officer Tarita Puna on (09) 261 0015 or emailed to tarita@cookconsulate.org.nz



Cook Islands High Commission services, Thorndon, Wellington


The Cook Islands High Commission in Wellington will remain open until further notice.

The High Commission’s immediate focus has been urgent consular services to Cook Islanders stranded overseas. The sudden, extensive and far reaching travel restrictions imposed by all governments, and particularly those imposed by the Cook Islands and New Zealand Governments generated an avalanche of urgent consular requests which High Commission staff, working closely with MFAI headquarters in Rarotonga, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) in Wellington and various other agencies in New Zealand have spent addressing over long hours particularly over the last week.


"New Zealand, despite its own challenges in addressing the spread of Covid-19, has been responsive to our various requests for assistance, a testament to the special relationship that we share,” said High Commissioner Wright Koteka.


The High Commission, together with MFAI headquarters International and Immigration Divisions in Rarotonga, have also been working closely with other international partners with diplomatic missions in Wellington to ensure Consular assistance to foreign nationals in self-quarantine in Rarotonga or stranded by extensive flights cancellations brought about by far reaching travel restrictions. “MFAI wish to acknowledge with gratitude the efforts of staff of the New Zealand and Australia High Commissions as well as Rarotonga based consular representatives for France, Germany, Spain and Japan for their timely and full co-operation as we’ve worked with those needing consular assistance under some very challenging circumstances,” said Karo Ngatoko, Director International Division MFAI headquarters.


Most recently, High Commission officials have stepped up focused conversations with international partners with diplomatic missions in Wellington to source urgent medical supplies and equipment being requested by Te Marae Ora – Ministry of Health in Rarotonga. Discussions with partners on Covid-19 responses have been ongoing for weeks, gaining greater momentum over the last week.


“We are grateful to our international partners for their preparedness to share insights into their own responses to Covid-19 and most recently, assistance with provision of critical medical supplies and equipment needs. It is acknowledged that globally medical supplies and equipment are in scarce supply, the preparedness to assist us at this time speak to the strength of our bilateral relationships and the global humanitarian lens through which all countries are working together to overcome Covid-19,” said High Commissioner Wright Koteka.


Queries for the High Commission can be channeled through to First Secretary Piakura Passfield at the High Commission Office by phone – +64 (04) 472 5126 or email – firstsec@cookhicom.org.nz

Rarotonga queries can be directed to Director Ngatoko on phone 29 347 or email Karopaerangi.ngatoko@cookislands.gov.ck


Information on health measures, travel and border restrictions for the Cook Islands can be found on the Cook Islands Covid-19 website – https://covid19.gov.ck/


Information on health measures, travel and border restrictions for New Zealand can be found at https://covid19.govt.nz/


It is recommended these pages, which are updated frequently by both the Cook Islands and New Zealand Governments should be first source of Covid-19 information, and thereafter, the High Commission and Consulate contacts if necessary.


MFAI extend on behalf of the Ministry headquarters, the High Commission and Consulates in New Zealand appreciation for the understanding and patience of all affected as officials endeavour to respond in a timely and effective manner during these challenging times. Kia rava te akakoromaki – stay safe, Te Atua te aroa.

Photos:

1 Staff of the Cook Islands High Commission and Consulate Offices in New Zealand – L-R: Frances Topa-Apera, Community Outreach support; Consulate Executive Officer Tarita Puna; High Commission First Secretary Piakura Passfield at foreground; Consul General Rosie Blake and High Commissioner Elizabeth Wright Koteka

2 L-R: France Ambassador to New Zealand and the Cook Islands Sylvaine Carta Le Vert; High Commissioner Wright Koteka; Solomon Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand Joy Kere and Samoa High Commissioner to New Zealand and Dean of the Diplomatic Corp Leasi Scanlan

3 MFAI Director International Affairs Karo Ngatoko at right, meeting with Resident Representative to Fiji and the Cook Islands for the Japan International Cooperation Agency Shinya Tamio


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