New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown have signed a new Statement of Partnership in Rarotonga today.
Called 'Waka Hourua/Vaka Purua' it commits to working together on issues of shared interests and importance, recognising both countries' special links, and elevating the relationship to a new level of cooperation.
Nanaia Mahuta said she and Mark Brown talked about climate change cooperation, tourism, the Covid-19 response, and economic recovery.
The new agreement was a significant milestone in the relationship and provided a roadmap for the future, she said.
Waka Houra and Vaka Purua are, respectively, the Aotearoa New Zealand Māori and Cook Islands Māori terms for the traditional double-hulled canoes that used to journey between the two countries.
The name symbolises the enduring links that exist between the Cook Islands and Aotearoa New Zealand, and the intention to continue to work together to navigate future challenges and opportunities.
More pandemic support
The New Zealand government has announced further pandemic support for Pacific Island countries.
Mahuta made the announcement during a visit to Rarotonga Hospital where she met frontline health workers involved in the Covid-19 response.
The package of support includes extra funding of $US2 million for the Polynesian Health Corridors programme for pandemic preparedness and response over the next year, and a $US617,000 contribution to the World Health Organisation to increase access to Covid-19 therapeutics in the wider Pacific, with accompanying technical support.
For the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, the package will also include access to Covid-19 oral antivirals from New Zealand's domestic supply, and the requested provision of second Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine boosters.
New Zealand's Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio said the Polynesian Health Corridors programme saw workers from Aotearoa New Zealand step up with public health advice, vaccine rollout support, and health workforce capability building in the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.
The support would ensure Pacific countries had more tools to respond to Covid to keep their populations safe, he said.