Now, it has signed a new five-year agreement with New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, as a means of expanding their immigration co-operation.
It comes after immigration charges were laid against crew of the Nino Maravilla, a suspicious Ecuadorean yacht that was detained on Aitutaki last year. The boat, which appeared to be an old fishing boat, was equipped with brand new engines – and no fishing equipment.
There are international reports that sending yachts across the south Pacific Ocean has become become a major new drug route.
Cook Islands government officials said that in the past 18 months, the two Immigration agencies had worked together on a programme for the months ahead.
“The most important responsibility of a state is to ensure its national security,” said Immigration Secretary Tepaeru Hermann. “But not even the most powerful nations can fully guarantee their national security so co-operation and mutual support is essential.”
This included support for strengthening the countries’ immigration capabilities in the pa enua, including Aitutaki, with elements to support skills and mentoring personnel there.
This is part of New Zealand’s Hakili Matagi Programme aimed to help Pacific Islands countries and strengthening border management capabilities across the region.
The ministry says New Zealand’s business ministry will provide assistance with immigration data collection and analysis, intelligence, border operations, warrant development and immigration personnel professional development.