The event is hosted by Prime Minister Henry Puna, ministry secretary Tepaeru Herrmann and her staff, in partnership with the University of the South Pacific and the Ministry of Education.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the ministry, which began its mandate with the enactment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Act.
Today, the ministry operates across four offices in Rarotonga, Wellington and Auckland with 30 Cook Islanders in its fulltime employ and an annual budget of $2.7 million.
It has diplomatic representation in London and France and Honorary Consul representation in the Pacific, Europe and Asia.
The ministry is government’s principal advisor on foreign policy, international trade negotiations, national security and immigration matters. It also co-ordinates government’s relations with more than 50 sovereign states and the European Union; Cook Islands membership of multiple regional and international inter-governmental organisations and government’s participation in multiple legally-binding international Treaties and Conventions to which the Cook Islands is party.
The former Immigration Department was subsumed into the ministry in 1996, as part of government’s consolidation of the public service, brought about by the economic crisis of the time. The immigration service oversees the movement of more than 170,000 people across Cook Islands borders annually and issues more than 3000 permits within the Cook Islands at any given time.
“Over the last 35 years, the basic tenets of Cook Islands foreign and security (including immigration) policies have served us so well. Those core national objectives and policies are to ensure the Cook Islands independence, survival and growth including through international engagement approaches characterised by pragmatism, resilience and innovation, always working to ensure a safer and more prosperous Cook Islands,” said Herrmann. “Within a rapidly evolving global context, and faced with the imminent threat of climate change and an expanded concept of security as articulated in the Boe Declaration, the ministry recognises that our foreign affairs and security activities need to be strategic, focused and most important, responsive to our shifting political, economic, social and environmental priorities.”
-Ministry of Foreign Affairs