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[Media Release - MFAI] Polynesian Leaders Group Meet

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


Friday 29 January 2021 – 15:00


Prime Minister Mark Brown on Thursday morning met with other Polynesian Leaders in the 10th Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) Meeting held virtually to discuss a wide range of important regional issues. It was somewhat of a historic occasion as the Prime Minister was able to participate fully in the discussions via satellite phone from on board the MV Taunga Nui while on his mission to the Northern Group.


Established in 2011 by former Prime Minister Henry Puna and other Polynesian Leaders, the PLG comprises Leaders of American Samoa, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna. It meets to consider issues of concern to Polynesian countries and territories with a view to agreeing common positions and actions to further their collective interests.


The 10th PLG meeting was chaired by the Hon. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, Governor of American Samoa, who recalled that it had not been possible to hold a PLG Meeting in 2020 because of COVID-19 but because the special Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Meeting would convene next week, it was opportune for the PLG to discuss issues that might arise in the Forum meeting.

The PLG discussed the impacts of COVID-19 on the region; climate change and the oceans; agriculture and fisheries; information, communication and technology; as well as progress to date as relates to Governance arrangements of the PLG including completion of the PLG Charter and secretarial structures to support the PLG.


The PLG agreed that in keeping with agreed procedures, the chair of the PLG would now pass to PM Brown as per alphabetical rotation of countries and that, depending on COVID-19-related restrictions, the next meeting of the PLG might be at the time of the Forum Leaders Meeting in Fiji later this year.


During the PLG Meeting, the Prime Minister briefed his colleagues on various developments and initiatives taken by the Cook Islands, including efforts to counter the effects of the pandemic. “It was a great pleasure for me to connect albeit virtually with my PLG colleagues and participate for the first time in a PLG meeting,” said PM Brown. “Participating in this meeting whilst at sea en route to visit some of our most remote islands like Palmerston and Pukapuka is a vivid reminder of the raft of vulnerabilities and challenges our people contend with on a day to day basis. I am reminded of the ingenuity and resilience of our people, who despite challenges of isolation and more remain bastions of community, innovation and determination, traits that have built our nation and serve to inspire amidst these most challenging of times. Amidst the unprecedented spread of the COVID virus globally, our geographic isolation has turned out to be an asset but as we look to the future, and grapple with how we can best overcome the health and economic challenges ahead, engagement and partnership with other Polynesian governments, PIF governments and our international partners to address issues of common concern will be integral to our recovery and I look forward to assuming the chair of the PLG and being able to serve our people and the region in that position.”


Prime Minister Brown was supported virtually from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) Offices in Rarotonga by Minister of Tourism and the Business Trade and Investment Board Patrick Arioka; Secretary of MFAI Tepaeru Herrmann and staff of the Pacific and Regional Affairs Division (PRAD) of MFAI.


Queries regarding this media release can be directed to Dr. Jim Gosselin, Director of MFAI’s PRAD Division at jim.gosselin@cookislands.gov.ck or phone 29347.


Photos:

1 out at sea aboard the Taunga Nui, between Aitutaki and Palmerston - Prime Minister Brown making an intervention during the PLG meeting from aboard the Taunga Nui which was enroute to Palmerston;

2 Office of the Governor, Pagopago - Chair of the 10th PLG Meeting Hon. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, Governor of American Samoa presiding over PLG discussions;

3 MFAI Offices, Rarotonga - Supporting PM Brown in yesterday’s PLG Meeting - Minister of Tourism and the Business Trade and Investment Board Patrick Arioka; Secretary of MFAI Tepaeru Herrmann and staff of the Pacific and Regional Affairs Division (PRAD) of MFAI


End.