Paul Raui Allsworth: Pay parity versus high income

Friday February 14, 2020 Published in Letters to the Editor
Thomas Henderson. 20021216 Thomas Henderson. 20021216

Sad to see another qualified and professional teacher leaving our shores due to pay disparity. Another one joining the ongoing outward drift of depopulation.


Whilst our country recently achieved the “status of high income level” that meets UN guidelines, the real substance and daily struggles on the ground on Rarotonga and more so in the outer islands is contrary to this belief.

Our high GDP and small per capital population makes it ideal for the top 20 per cent of domestic wealth earners to lift and accelerate our income level.

However the bottom 80 per cent, like the lowly paid teachers, health workers, and middle to low income workers, are suffering to meet the daily grind due to the high cost of living.

I know of some friends and people who hold two jobs to make ends meet.

I commend Thomas Henderson for having the courage to speak up for the silent majority.

Is it fair to say, are we really working and living in a “high income (or expense) level country”?


Terea Mataiapo 

Paul Raui Allsworth 


A professional with the same university degree from the same country (New Zealand) getting paid less than his colleagues (expats) – that’s a down right slap in the face!

And please don’t say it would be hard to attract teachers to the Cook Islands. There are so many teachers and other professionals who are willing to take a pay cut to work and live in paradise.

Cook Islands is a professional’s dream to literally volunteer a part of their career life to make a difference.

I’ve met doctors who would jump at the opportunity to do time in the Cook Islands.

Brother (Thomas Henderson) my only recommendation to you is to make application to the Department of Education in Western Australia for remote country postings for you and your family. The pay and experience is way better than New Zealand.

Your local indigenous knowledge and passion for commitment to the future of indigenous children, would be welcomed in Western Australia. The incentives (money wise) would support your professional development.

At least you got the opportunity to take your university degree home and use it there.

Unlike myself, I still can’t get over how I had to send an email with my CV to Cook Islands Health Department 20 years ago for a job in Rarotonga. I had always wanted to go back home and work for my people. I offered to sacrifice a $35 per hour pay to work for my people at the local Rarotonga hospital or the outer islands for $5 an hour.

Instead I got the “we don’t need you” email reply. When my doctor uncle found out he was not happy. I chose to not go the route of who I know or who I’m related to but rather on merit because to me that was fair.

Turns out I wasn’t Cook Islands enough. That experience was heart wrenching, yet in hindsight it was the best thing for my career.

Thomas Henderson, you are the lucky one and have done our country proud by doing your volunteer years for our people.

Go with your heart and mind. Now set your five year plan to make that grass greener for you and your young family.

All the best in your future endeavours. And may God richly bless you.


Daphne Marsters

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