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[Media Release - MFAI] Announcement of New Zealand High Commissioner-designate to the Cook Islands

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

The Cook Islands welcome the recent announcement by New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, on the appointment of Ms Tui Dewes as New Zealand’s High Commissioner-designate to the Cook Islands.

The Cook Islands and New Zealand have a special relationship founded on close historical ties, unique constitutional arrangements and a common citizenship and currency.

On 1 July 2020, the Cook Islands hosted a virtual meeting of the Cook Islands-New Zealand Joint Ministerial Forum (JMF), led by Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Mark Brown for the Cook Islands and Deputy Prime Minister the Rt Hon. Winston Peters for New Zealand, with a focus on COVID-19 border settings, COVID-19 response and recovery and economic co-operation. The JMF was preceded by the convening of a virtual Joint Ministerial Forum Working Group (JMF-WG) which focused discussion on the Cook Islands economic situation; reframing of cooperation and scope for closer integration and/or enhanced cooperation. The JMF-WG is the preeminent policy dialogue mechanism at senior official’s level between the Cook Islands and New Zealand that provides direct support to the Foreign Ministers of both the Cook Islands and New Zealand in considering and agreeing bilateral cooperation activities and tasking.

Within the Cook Islands – New Zealand bilateral relationship, priority of focus has since January this year rightly remained on immediate COVID-19 preparedness and response. Border settings discussions have featured prominently and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead. Broader economic and social recovery and the creation and strengthening of enabling environments for mid to longer-term economy diversification efforts will also take on elevated importance in bilateral discussions in the coming weeks.

Said Secretary for Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Tepaeru Herrmann, “As one of our closest and most significant bilateral partners, future cooperation with New Zealand assumes elevated importance given the global impact of COVID-19. We welcome the recent announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Peters on the appointment of Ms Dewes and look forward to welcoming her to Rarotonga once health conditions and border settings on both sides can accommodate”.

High Commissioner-designate Dewes takes over from Ms Rachel Bennett who has held the Acting High Commissioner role with the New Zealand High Commission to the Cook Islands for the last 7 months. Ms Dewes is currently Unit Manager of the Partnerships Unit within the Humanitarian and Multilateral Division of the Pacific and Development Group for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), having served at MFAT for a total of 19 years both in New Zealand and abroad.

Ms Dewes called on High Commissioner Elizabeth Wright-Koteka at the Cook Islands High Commission chancery in Wellington yesterday as part of pre-posting to Rarotonga preparations.

For further information regarding this media release, please contact MFAI Director International Affairs & Trade Karopaerangi Ngatoko on phone 29347 or email

Photo: Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand Elizabeth Wright Koteka at left with Ms Dewes New Zealand High Commissioner-designate to the Cook Islands Tui Ewes at Cook Islands High Commission offices in Wellington yesterday.


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