The high level meeting on March 29 will involve a Cook Islands delegation led by Prime Minister Henry Puna accompanied by Minister of Finance Mark Brown, Minister of Health Nandi Glassie, Minister of Internal Affairs Albert Nicholas and MP Mona Ioane.
The New Zealand delegation will be headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, accompanied by High Commissioner Nick Hurley and senior officials from Wellington.
Hosting the meeting in Aitutaki continues the trend of having the outer islands participate in important meetings. Last year’s meeting was held in Manihiki and gave the New Zealand delegation key insights into the challenges facing development in the Pa Enua.
A press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration said the annual meetings provided the opportunity to strengthen the close and special relationship between the two countries.
“Previous forums have progressed key issues in the bilateral relationship in areas such as pension portability, overseas development assistance, telecommunications, water, sanitation, renewable energy and regional issues,” the release said.
The agenda for this year will include telecommunications, education, overseas development assistance and regionalism.
Ministers will also sign the new Joint Commitment for Development between the Cook Islands and New Zealand which guides the bilateral development programme.
“This agreement outlines shared responsibilities for improving prosperity for the Cook Islands and Cook Islanders through improving economic growth, strengthening human capacity and enhancing overall economic self-sufficiency.” - Release