NZ PM Won’t Discuss UN Membership With Cook Islands PM

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NZ PM Won’t Discuss UN Membership With Cook Islands PM Key reportedly says shared citizenship would need to change

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, July 29, 2015) – While PM Henry Puna wants to rekindle talks on United Nations membership and New Zealand passports, New Zealand media are reporting New Zealand PM John Key isn’t planning further discussions.

Radio New Zealand reported that Key is looking forward to his next conversation with Prime Minister Puna when he visits Rarotonga on Monday, but he is not planning another discussion on UN membership with him.

A statement by John Key’s spokesman said Prime Minister Key was clear that New Zealand is not in a position to support Cook Islands membership of the UN under the Cooks Islands' current constitutional status.

The statement went further to say if the Cook Islands wants UN membership, the constitutional relationship, including the current shared citizenship will need to change.

It says New Zealand is open to reviewing its relationship with the Cook Islands, if the Cook Islands wants to do so, though New Zealand is not seeking a change.

PM Puna repeatedly stressed in a media conference late last week that doing away with New Zealand citizenship has never been part of his government’s UN membership plan.

The issue of UN membership has been simmering since a story about the Cook Islands’ alleged push for independence, was published on New Zealand news website Stuff in May.

The story prompted huge reaction from Cook Islanders who were outraged that Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna would even think about giving up island residents’ rights to New Zealand citizenship.

It said it was ‘understood’ the Cook Islands saw a vote at the UN as an important bargaining chip that could give the country greater influence and leverage to secure more aid and economic development cash.

"Puna is keen for what officials are calling ‘the money and the bag’ option – full independence while retaining New Zealand citizenship – but that is unlikely to be granted," the story said.

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