Temata said she recognises the developing relationship of the Cook Islands and New Zealand and that the renewable energy developments across the country and green climate funding appropriation have been major developments for the Cook Islands. In response, Puna said: “The basis of our growth and development and everything that is us is our relationship with New Zealand, and we are encouraged by the government of New Zealand with its announcement of the Pacific Reset.
“Our aim,” said Puna, “is to advance the way we as two countries communicate with each other to facilitate developments and progress … ministry to ministry, agency to agency … and this is captured in the joint ministerial forum of April 2018 held in Waitangi.
“No longer are we seen as donor and recipient in our relationship, instead we are seen as partners.”
Also, said Puna: “Our impending graduation to a developed-country status will have its challenges but we see it more as a compliment on how the country has been managed and also a time of new opportunities.
“It is of great comfort that New Zealand has already pledged its continuing support despite our new elevated status. The passing of the Superannuation amendment that enables our people to come home at a time where they can still contribute to our growth is indicative of such support continuing unchanged.”
“It has been pleasing also,” said Temata, “that New Zealand government agencies have been in country to support the capacity development of our local service providers and government agencies such as Health and Corrections.
“It is because of this mutual relationship between New Zealand and the Cook Islands that we see the benefits of the Pacific Reset and realised not only at the government level but also at the capacity level for those working at the coal face in our communities.”
Ms Temata is the first woman of Pacific heritage to head a New Zealand diplomatic post in the Pacific. She is a career diplomat with more than 20 years’ experience in development, trade and legal matters. She has worked mainly in the Pacific and has had postings in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. She was formally the Country Director for the NGO, HOPE worldwide PNG, and the Chief Executive of the PNG Esselars security company.
Prior to her appointment by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Ms Temata was the unit manager responsible for Pacific regional trade and values in the Pacific and Development section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Her father is Tiatoa Temata and mother, Jane Crichton, whose aiga are from the village of Asau in Samoa. She was born and raised in Taranaki and is the seventh of nine children.