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No specific details available as New Head of State residence concept goes out to tender

Friday 22 September 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Economy, Local, National


A new Head of State residence is on the table for Rarotonga, but it’s unclear when, where and what it’s going to cost.

While the Cook Islands Investment Corporation has called for design report quotes for the official residence of the Head of State, it has not been specific about what is proposed, what it will cost and when construction might get underway.

The development comes after it was revealed King’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters had never slept a night at the Official Residence of the King’s Representative in Titikaveka.

Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) confirmed the residence was unfit for purpose in a written statement in February.

Being approximately 50 years old with a multi-pitch roof, the building continuously experiences roof leaks, despite repair attempts by government.

The last Queen’s Representative to reside there during his term was Sir Frederick Goodwin, the sixth QR who stepped down in July 2013.

Measuring approximately 251m², the residence was constructed in the 1970s and has undergone a number of alterations and extensions since then.

This week, CIIC has confirmedthe conceptual design is expected to be carried out by a senior architect and supported by an engineering team with an anticipated timeframe of four months to complete the assignment.   

However, CIIC has not been forthcoming with specific details.

In July it was revealed Parliament had released details in the 2023 /2024 Budget with regards to the appropriation of $251,889 for the Head of State.

At the time, Prime Minister Mark Brown thanked Sir Tom Marsters for understanding the situation of the Titikaveka residence.

Yesterday, a CIIC spokesperson said they would “prefer not to disclose the budget for the ‘conceptual designs’ work, while the request for quote programme is underway”.

The conceptual design works formed part of the CIIC’s current year 2023/24 Government Building Projects – Rarotonga capital programme.

Cook Islands News was told the budget for the wider build project would “be able to be articulated following completion of the conceptual design”.

As outlined in the public notice, request for quotes advertisement, the conceptual design request for quote submission date deadline is Monday, October 2.

Following the deadline, assessments of the quotes will be undertaken, and as outlined in the request for quote document, the expectation is that a full draft report is finalised three months after the signing of the contract.

Cook Islands News asked what is proposed for the current residence.  

“We will largely be guided from the outcome of the conceptual designs work, and other assessments, as part of this work programme,” the spokesperson said.

“A key feature of the works brief is the requirement for the design and programme of works is sustainability.” 

In recent years, CIIC has assessed the residential building in Titikaveka requires extensive works.

It is not fit for purpose, or occupancy, as it is prone to issues when minor weather events occur, and it is therefore a requirement from CIIC that the residence is not habituated.

It was an agreed position between CIIC and the Head of State Office.  

The Office of the Head of State is situated on the same site.

In a building next to the residence, the office comprises approximately 58m², a front 42m² portico and a 24m² carport.

While the residence itself is not being used for formal occasions due to it not being fit for purpose, from time to time the grounds are used for some events including awards and presentations.

It was also earlier confirmed the formal lease between the landowner and government had expired.

Since its expiry, there has been an ongoing arrangement between the landlord and government, and government is therefore a tenant at will, on good terms.