At Tereora College, a student challenged Prime Minister Henry Puna and the Ministry to be innovative. Being able to create new and unique ideas would help the economy, she said.
“We live in a new world with new rules that demand new responses,” she told the country’s leaders. “As a nation, preparing students for the future is recognised as innovation and should be known to all students if we are looking to encounter a brighter future.
“If the youth of the Cook Islands aren’t aware of how important innovation is, we are setting up our nation to fail.”
Puna yesterday unveiled the country’s strategic five-year plan for foreign affairs, and a new Maori name for the ministry: Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki.
In 1965 the country approved the constitution, he said. “We have a realistic view of our limitations and expectations, our core values in 1965 are as valid today as they were then; on the 35th anniversary of MFAI, there is a need to invest, to strengthen us globally.”
The ministry’s vision was to advance “the aspirations of our people”.
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Tepaeru Herman said, “we see our job serving with impartiality… a constant struggle is to pinpoint what are the priorities.”
Next year would be a game-changer for the country, the meeting was told. 2020 would be a crucial point at which the Cook Islands would graduate to a developed country status, and the Manatua cable project would roll out to internet users.
Challenges included economic changes and climate change. Although tourism drove more diversification, one speaker said, Cook Islands needed to be careful in how much they wanted to diversify.