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OPM Media Release - Cook Islands population policy now open for comment

08 July 2022

Cook Islands draft Population Policy now open for comment

The very first Cook Islands draft Population Policy will be open for public comment Friday 8th July]. Population trends and patterns have a major impact on the development and quality of life of a country, this will ensure population trends and dynamics are considered when government planning is underway.


Now in its final draft stages, the development of the Cook Islands Population Policy began in 2020 led by the Central Policy and Planning Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister. A working committee was formed to provide input across the various stages of planning, followed by the draft being shared across sectors for further input.


This has led to the current draft which will be open to the public for input and comment over a two week period.


“We’ve learnt the demographic transition in the Cook Islands is already well-advanced. The Cook Islands does not have the high birth and death rates typical of less developed countries, that phase was passed through two decades ago,” said Ms Valery Wichman, Director of the CPPO.


“This means that our policy is not directed at reducing our overall birth rate as with traditional population policies, we have a different set of issues arising from a rapidly changing age structure and our patterns of emigration and immigration.”


Having undergone wide consultation with stakeholders ensures the policy is consistent with community views and national aspirations. It will allow for greater policy harmonisation and alignment across various sectors as well as with national development policies.


The Cook Islands Population Policy will be useful in helping Government make informed decisions. Now is the opportunity for Cook Islands residents and people to have their input and views received on the policy.


“We are hopeful this policy will address the challenges that our population policy is facing. These are issues from age structure change, our population mobility, maintaining Pa Enua populations and changing causes of death. There is also the emigration from the Cook Islands and freedom of movement which are our fundamental human rights and cannot be restricted by government policy,” said Ms Wichman.


“In our case, we have the freedom to move to New Zealand, and also the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement in which Cook Islanders can freely enter Australia. There are many pull factors to other countries which are difficult to overcome. We are hopeful this policy provides our government with the best advice in the face of all of these challenges.”


Developed under the supervision of the CPPO, the policy was formed by a population specialist with support from a local consultant.


The Working Group that helped guide the development of the Cook Islands National Policy consisted of members from the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, Internal Affairs, Statistics Office, National Council of Women and the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation.


The current draft policy is open for comment from Friday 8th July to Friday 22nd July. Please contact the Central Policy and Planning Office for further information on cppo@cookislands.gov.ck or +682 25494.