Prime Minister Mark Brown and New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters at the PM’s Office in Avarua on February 7. CANDICE LUKE/ 24020788
A grant of $16.5 million is on its way to help the Cook Islands respond to climate change, announced New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters who visited Rarotonga yesterday.
The funds will go to projects
such as renewable energy, cycle shelter upgrades, battery replacements and
water security, as agreed with the Cook Islands.
At a press conference at the Office
of the Prime Minister yesterday, PM Mark Brown reiterated the importance of
climate finance, as the South Pacific is in the midst of cyclone season.
early weather warning systems, which the country didn’t have 10 years ago, are
critical to prepare for weather events with “ever increasing, ever stronger
tropical cyclones and other more extreme weather conditions”.
in infrastructure is critical for the Cook Islands.
“Climate finance plays a key
role in that. Access to that finance, which is proven to be very difficult for
The $16.5m joins the pot of $150
million pledged to the Pacific Resilience Facility, established at the Pacific
Brown will head to the US on
another pledging mission to build Cook Islands climate change resilience.
“It’s something that’s not new
for Pacific countries. It’s an ongoing everyday experience.”
Peters said he was pleased to be
in the Cook Islands and proud of the relationship between the nations, spanning
back centuries to the “Great Migration”.
The meeting was a chance for the
Cook Islands to engage with New Zealand’s new coalition government.
Peters said it was great to see
the level of economic recovery post-Covid-19, and Brown pointed out that a
strong Cook Islands economy is good business for New Zealand.
“We might get a number of thousands
of Kiwis coming through here but Cook Island companies would purchase over $200
million worth of goods and services from New Zealand companies,” Brown said.
The New Zealand delegation saw a
presentation on deep sea mining, as the Cooks goes into the third year of
deep-sea exploration this year.
Brown said at this point data is
still being gathered, and he proposes that a “centre of excellence on deep
ocean science” should be established in Rarotonga.
The next stage is determining
what type of technology
is needed to harvest manganese nodules from the deep ocean, if they can be
harvested in a way that ensures the protection of the ocean.
not for or against the notion, stating that the Cook Islands has its own
economic zone and laws, but he said the activity could mean “enormous wealth
for the Cook Islands”.
reality is you’re talking about a massive, huge depth in the water. And there
aren’t too many creatures that actually grow if you look at the weight of the
water at that level,” Peters said.
With recent AUKUS submarine
talks between Australia and New Zealand, Cook Islands nuclear-free standing was
questioned. Brown said the Cook Islands stance mirrors that of all Pacific
countries in wanting to keep the region nuclear weapons free, and nuclear free,
but he is open to discussions with New Zealand, Australia and other
At the Pacific Islands Forum in
November last year, the Rarotonga Treaty was revisited to look at issues like
nuclear testing to make it more relevant to today’s context.
Brown says it is timely to have
discussions about the Cook Islands nuclear free stance now.
Deputy Prime Minister Peters and
Minister for Health and Pacific Peoples Dr Shane Reti visited Rarotonga on the
second day of their Pacific Mission which includes Tonga and Samoa. They left
last night after attending the Waitangi Day reception hosted by the New Zealand
High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, Tui Dewes.