“Life for most of us in the Cook Islands is pretty good and some would not give it up for the world,” she says.
“It is also important for some Cook Islanders that things stay the same, and they do not want to see change.
“However, if we want to have better health and better education, it is important that we invest in creating jobs which will provide the income for us to achieve the better things.
“So how much investment is enough and by whom?
“It’s a question that is tough to answer, but needs a response.”
Manarangi-Trott says this country has done well compared to other countries in the Pacific and the private sector continues to invest in spite of certain actions that have been taken by the government, including a halt on permanent residency permits.
“There are government actions that are very positive and there are actions that are negative and will discourage investment, growth and jobs.
“In particular the current discussion on immigration and the halting of permanent residency permits will do nothing to support investment.
“Those who are not New Zealand citizens are further disenfranchised because they are also unable to vote.
“So we must ask ourselves: What is the pathway for investors, and where will their labour of love in the Cook Islands lead them?”
Manarangi-Trott says the criteria for what this country requires investors to do, are simple: bring very large sums of cash, employ Cook Islanders, create jobs for Cook Islanders and pay Cook Islands taxes
“So what do they get in return? The answer, currently, is ‘nothing’.
“Interestingly, based on those same criteria there will be little investment from local Cook Islands businesses as well – because if they were to sell their business, who would they sell to?
“Should we be worried? I think so. This is not about opening the door to anybody and everybody, but allowing for a balanced approach that makes sense to us all.
“But we need to discuss this openly so that we can continue the lifestyle that we have all become use to.”