The delegation, here for the annual Joint Ministerial Forum which will be held today in Aitutaki, also includes New Zealand’s Police and Fisheries minister Stuart Nash and Parliamentary under-secretary for foreign affairs Fletcher Tabuteau.
The visitors were greeted by members from the New Zealand High Commission in the Cook Islands led by the high commissioner Tessa Te Mata at the Rarotonga International Airport tarmac before they were escorted to the VIP Lounge.
Prime minister Henry Puna, Infrastructure minister Robert Tapaitau, incoming ‘seventh minister’ Toka Hagai and Cook Islands high commissioner to New Zealand Elizabeth Wright-Koteka met with the delegation at the lounge.
DPM Peters, who is also New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister, in a statement said: “New Zealand has a very special relationship with the Cook Islands as a realm country, and this meeting is a serious opportunity for us to reaffirm New Zealand’s ongoing commitment to our unique constitutional relationship.”
Peters said the Cook Islands’ upcoming graduation to developed status would be one of the key agenda items at the meeting.
The Cook Islands would be the first Pacific country to graduate since New Caledonia in 2000.
“Graduation to high income status will represent a serious achievement for the Cook Islands Government and it is timely to discuss how we will continue to work closely together,” Peters said.
The delegation will leave the country tomorrow.