26 Nov 2019

Expansion of Cooks Islands' Auckland consulate planned

12:09 pm on 26 November 2019

Planned changes for the Cook Islands' consular office in Auckland will strengthen relations with its people living in New Zealand, the Cook Islands consul-general says.

The Cook Islands Consulate in Manukau, Auckland.

The Cook Islands Consulate in Manukau, Auckland. Photo: Google Street View

That follows Prime Minister Henry Puna's comments in May that the government would review the role and resourcing of its consulate to support Cook Islanders referred to New Zealand for medical treatment.

Roseline Blake said the consulate's diplomatic representation would not diminish, and the "changes will have a huge impact on the islanders".

An expansion would include the services of police, education and other government departments.

"It's not only for the health referrals," she said.

"We have a lot of agencies that are needing the services of the police department and the education which we do have access for recruitment. There are other ministries that the government is finding the need for this office to expand."

Ms Blake said she was yet to be advised on when the moves would take place.

The consulate-general serves about 62,000 Cook Islands Māori in New Zealand.

The consulate had acted mostly as a purchasing agent for the government in the 1980s - promoting tourism and providing support for patients in the 1990s.

Ms Blake said the consulate would also serve as a community engagement office.

"Expanding to absorb all the community connections," she said. "We have a lot of people here that's passionate about their country as well and have a lot of ties with our homeland.

"So yes, I see the need and the purpose of what the direction of the government is heading for."

The recent success of the Maeva Nui Festival held in Auckland for the first time was an indication of the "way forward for us here".

Ms Blake was recognised as a member of the hall of fame at the inaugural Vaine Rangatira Awards of the Maeva Nui.

The consulate will be closed for two weeks during the Christmas-New Year period.