13 Apr 2018

Overseas aid will remain vital for Cooks after graduation

1:33 pm on 13 April 2018

While the Cook Islands is preparing to graduate to developed nation status Prime Minister Henry Puna says it will still need overseas aid.

During his recent trip to Wellington Mr Puna said his government recognises the importance of making strong efforts to diversify its economy.

But he said the reality of the country's existence was such that one cyclone could potentially destroy its tourism-based economy and require years to rebuild.

The Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna

The Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox

He said through the lens of impending graduation in 2019 or 2023, the Cook Islands would need to re-assess the nature of its intentional relationships. .

He said New Zealand will remain its 'premier partner of choice' and it will work closely with Wellington post-graduation, but Mr Puna said the Cooks would look for opportunities to build closer relations with key New Zealand ministries to provide technical expertise and training.

In preparation for the graduation, the Cook's Government planned to look at expanding its diplomatic partners and its memberships with international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and others.

Mr Puna also said the Cook Islands had a great story to tell and it could contribute positively to the international debate on issues relating to the Pacific.