19 May 2020

Govt working hard to repatriate Cook Islanders - Puna

7:16 am on 19 May 2020

The Cook Islands prime minister says his government's working hard to repatriate Cook Islanders still stranded overseas.

But in an address to the nation, Henry Puna said keeping Covid-19 out of the country remained his core priority.

The first plane loads of repatriated Cook Islanders arrived last week and are now quarantined at a resort, while another load will depart Auckland on Friday.

Cook Islands Prime Minister, Henry Puna, at the Asia Pacific Energy Leaders' Summit, 1 November 2018, Te Papa, Wellington.

Cook Islands Prime Minister, Henry Puna, at the Asia Pacific Energy Leaders' Summit, 1 November 2018, Te Papa, Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

While the Cook Islands remains Covid-19 free, Mr Puna said the country faces grave challenges of uncertainty.

He said as the main gateway, New Zealand's battle against the coronavirus has significant bearing on his measures.

With New Zealand moving into level 2 restrictions, that means there are positive signs the repatriation process can go up a gear.

Mr Puna said the government is scoping out options to repatriate Cook Islanders, contract workers and students, including those stranded beyond New Zealand.