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Deputy High Commissioner takes charge

Thursday 15 December 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Local, National, Politics

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Deputy High Commissioner takes charge

Considerations towards the new Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand are presently with Cabinet, says Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

Deputy High Commissioner for the Cook Islands High Commission to New Zealand Piakura Passfield has assumed Charge d’affaires responsibilities with the recent end of tenure of former Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) said Passfield will continue to serve in Charge d’affaires capacity until the confirmation of the new High Commissioner.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Act 1984 stipulates that representative overseas, including High Commissioners, are to be appointed by the King’s Representative acting on the advice of Cabinet.

“Considerations towards the new High Commissioner are presently with Cabinet, and an announcement will be made once the process has been completed,” the spokesperson said.

Passfield joined MFAI in 2017 as a foreign affairs officer, before serving as First Secretary to the Cook Islands High Commission from April 2019 to October 2020 and then deputy High Commissioner since October 2020.

The Cook Islands has 59 diplomatic partners, 37 of which are stationed in Wellington. The High Commission engages with all those partners on a multitude of issues.

The office is based in Wellington and has two diplomats and an administrative officer, who handle a lot of work.

More than 80,000 Cook Islanders live in New Zealand, the vast majority of them are based in Auckland. Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens who are free to live and work there.

During Wright-Koteka’s term, the Cook Islands developed diplomatic ties with a number of countries, including Indonesia, Kuwait, Vietnam and Ireland, while the United States also formally recognised the Cook Islands as a sovereign state.

In an earlier interview with Cook Islands News, Wright-Koteka said: “I think when it comes to diplomacy, the Cook Islands punches above our weight. There are some really hardworking people that make these things happen.”