The Australian had been driving a motorbike on the Takuvaine inland road on the morning of Thursday, April 7, when he crashed.
Taken to hospital, he was discharged shortly after, says Police Commissioner Maara Tetava.
Tetava says police were unable to determine where the Australian lived and he was taken to headquarters to sober up.
Tetava added the deceased had not been arrested but was initially kept in a police cell.
“He was later removed from the cell and allowed to move around the station.”
Sometime later that same morning, the deceased fell ill and was readmitted to hospital.
Tetava did not disclose what symptoms the deceased was showing or how long he had been ill before being taken to hospital.
The Australian was flown to New Zealand the following day, where he died.
Tetava did not say which hospital the deceased was transferred to.
Because the death occurred in New Zealand, the Coroner’s office has the responsibility to conduct an inquest. Two New Zealand police officers are in Rarotonga to conduct the investigation for the Auckland Coroner’s office.
They are Detective Senior Sergeant Aaron Pascoe and Sergeant Dave Hoeft.
Commissioner Tetava says their investigation will be supported by Cook Islands officers.
The New Zealand Coroner’s office is headed by Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall.
The office’s website states “the role of the Coroner is to establish when, where, how and why the death happened, and also to work out whether anything can be done differently that might stop similar deaths in the future. If so, they make recommendations.”
The Coroner’s office does not hold trials. The coronial process is fact finding, not fault-finding, the website states.
This means it is not there to blame or punish anyone, but instead it aims to work with the families of the person who died to try and answer any questions they might have, and to improve public safety.”
The 16 coroners who cover nine New Zealand centres are all qualified lawyers “appointed as judicial officers to look into sudden or suspicious deaths to establish what happened.”