26 Jan 2007

Calls in Cook Islands to define local nationality

5:34 pm on 26 January 2007

A report just released on Cook Islands immigration calls for a single definition of who is entitled to be called a Cook Islander.

The immigration minister Wilkie Rasmussen released the report, which recommends the term Cook Islander be used exclusively for Cook Island Maori entitled by birth, under Maori custom, to an interest in Maori land.

The immigration review committee's report was written in 2003, but never made public by previous immigration ministers.

Mr Rasmussen said he released it to the Cook Islands Herald because of the current debate on immigration, but is continuing his own investigations.

The committee said there were three different definitions of Cook Islander in the Cook Islands Act 1915, the Development Investment Act 1995-96, and the Entry, Residence and Departure Act 1971-72.

Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens under the country's self governing, free association with New Zealand status.