Health officials at Rarotonga International Airport greeting returnees from Auckland last year. 20091830
Plans are in place to bring home stranded Cook Islanders in Auckland and other parts of New Zealand but no date has been set for the first repatriation flight.
The Cook Islands Cabinet have approved the Managed Returns
Plan for Cook Islands residents stranded in New Zealand following the current
‘Delta outbreak’ in Auckland and resultant suspension on inwards international
arrivals since August 16.
To date, the Cook Islands Government, through the Cook
Islands High Commission in Wellington, has been engaged with some 350 residents
currently sheltering in New Zealand.
The residents have registered for managed return to the Cook
Islands, with 125 of these being in regions outside of Auckland.
In a statement, the Border Easement Taskforce chair Tepaeru
Herrmann said: “The return of our Cook Islands residents who have been stranded
in New Zealand since the first detection of Case A and the resultant suspension
of inwards international arrivals from New Zealand has been a priority of our
Cabinet and therefore the Border Easement Taskforce (BET) including the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) since the 16 August.”
“The Plan approved by Cabinet will focus on a first cohort
comprising those currently sheltering in place outside the Auckland region on a
flight from Wellington or Christchurch.”
With Cabinet approval of the Managed Returns Plan, MFAI is
working closely with Te Marae Ora – Ministry of Health (TMO), Air New Zealand
and New Zealand agencies for the early and safe return of the 125 sheltering in
regions outside Auckland.
Based on pre-registration information, Cook Islands
residents sheltering in regions outside Auckland will be contacted directly to
formally apply for managed return via completion of the ‘Cook Islands Managed
Return Application Form’.
A negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours prior to
departure as well as mandatory completion of the ‘Online Contact Information
Form’ will be required. A period of at least seven-days in Managed Isolation
Quarantine (MIQ) on arrival into Rarotonga will also be required.
Prime Minister Mark Brown in his announcement last night
said Cook Islands residents sheltering in Auckland must wait for the alert
level to drop to Level 2 or below before repatriation can commence from
“I want to thank our people who have pre-registered for
return home with our High Commission for their continued patience as we work to
ensure their safe return whilst preventing Covid-19 and specifically the delta
variant from reaching the Cook Islands,” said Herrmann, who is also the
Secretary for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.
“We extend our appreciation also to our partners in New Zealand, various New Zealand entities and our Cook Islands communities who have since the onset of Covid, bolstered our capacity to deliver some assistance to our people awaiting return.
"Should additional assistance be required by those stranded, we urge continued engagement with our High Commission in the first instance (at email@example.com ) and further information will be forthcoming in the coming days around enhanced support to those awaiting repatriation.”