Relationship Between Cook Islands, NZ Improved By Bill English Visit

Camaraderie between PM Puna, PM English was obvious

By Richard Moore

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, June 15, 2017) – The close relationship between Cook Islands and New Zealand appeared even friendlier yesterday as Kiwi prime minister Bill English bid farewell to our little paradise.

Before he took off for Niue in an RNZAF 757, English and his entourage met with Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna and other dignitaries in the VIP lounge at Rarotonga International Airport.

The atmosphere was jovial and the camaraderie between the leaders was obvious.

There were no goodbye speeches over the cups of tea or coffee; instead Puna and Jake Numanga, the ukulele man who greets and plays goodbye to those flying in and out of Rarotonga International Airport, sang Pokarekare Ana and Now is the Hour.

A number of guests joined in with the singing.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs minister Gerry Brownlee took photos – once he had put down a bag with a ukulele in it, while Pacific People’s minister Alfred Ngaro seemed to really want to join the show but seemed unsure if he should or not.

When it came time for the New Zealand leader to leave, Puna, mug of hot drink in his other hand, gave English a friendly pat on the back.

Clearly it is now that sort of relationship.

And it seems it has been well received by Kiwis in both countries.

New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, Peter Marshall, said: “There is no doubt the visit of prime minister Bill English, his ministers and accompanying delegation was a resounding success from New Zealand’s perspective.

 “It was the prime minister’s first visit to the Cook Islands and a first for minister Gerry Brownlee since being appointed to the Foreign Affairs role.

“Both were eager to reinforce the point that the Pacific region will remain an important focus for New Zealand, with its strong and enduring relationship with the Cook Islands. 

“The prime minister’s announcement about additional New Zealand funding for current infrastructure developments projects in conjunction with the Cook Islands government reflects that focus and commitment. 

“Prime minister English also highlighted that Alfred Ngaro is the first Cook Islander to have been appointed a minister in a New Zealand Cabinet, adding it was a position he thoroughly deserved.

“The New Zealand prime minister and his delegation were impressed by the warmth of prime minister Puna’s welcome to this country, a warmth that was felt throughout the visit.

“Personal interactions are extremely important and the opportunities presented by the visit were appreciated by the delegation as whole.  It was definitely a successful visit.”

Cook Islands News
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