He was on the island for the wedding of New Zealand MP Shane Jones to his fiancé Dorothy Pumipi the following day. Jones is the New Zealand minister for Regional Development, Minister of Forests and Minister of Infrastructure,
Chamber of Commerce president Steve Lyon introduced Peters as a keen fisherman, adept at repairing boats, passionate about New Zealand culture and a keen outdoors and family man.
Peters spoke about the special relationship between New Zealand and the Cook Islands and other realm countries in the Pacific.
“I think this is the finest country in the Pacific and in fact the whole world.”
He said it was the New Zealand government’s intention to grow its relationship with the Cook Islands in mutually beneficial ways.
“The New Zealand government is strongly committed to establishing good relationships here.”
Congratulating the island on its growing GDP, “which is a credit to you,” he said: “It is the New Zealand government’s responsibility to give aid to the Cook Islands regardless of their economic success.”
Sometimes the NZ taxpayer would question this partnership and the amount of aid given, but it was also aimed at ruling out the involvement of “less desirable” countries, he said.
“It’s up to us to fulfil that role here. We need to put the bulk of aid in our neighbourhood, rather than somewhere else around the world.”
Peters said it was over to the Cook Islands government to decide how they wanted to plan and design the country’s future.
“And it is our role not to interfere, but to be a good supportive neighbour.”
He listed the number of aid projects being funded by the New Zealand government, “in case you don’t think we are doing anything.
“We want to bring much of the infrastructure here up to the level of certain areas in New Zealand.”
Speaking about this country’s population decline, he said changes to the National Superannuation rules and debt reduction for Cook Island students would be addressed, perhaps by the next New Zealand budget.
“Our intent is to stop the population decline. The islands can handle more population, but they need more jobs.”
Regarding National Superannuation rules, which have been a bone of contention in the Cook Islands and other realm countries, Peters said that all New Zealand citizens, whether they lived in New Zealand or on the Cook Islands should be treated the same.
“This is something we will fix.”
Peters said it should be that people living in the Cook Islands had the same rights as if they were living in Auckland.
“We want to see it easier for those (Cook Islanders) living in New Zealand to retire back home here. We will also look into tertiary student fees, making it easier for students to return to the Cook Islands to work.”
The Manatua Polynesian Cable project which is expected to enhance communication through a number of Pacific islands should be operational by 2019, Peters added.
“If we can get the cable in, then the island will take off because communication here will be as good as in New York.”
He said the New Zealand government was happy to collaborate with other countries on many projects in the Cook Islands “where we can”, mentioning a new police patrol boat for the Cook Islands, which is to be funded by Australia.
Congratulating the island on its beauty and lifestyle benefits, he finished with: “I might even move here myself.”