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LETTERS: ‘Let’s keep the faith in who are our most important partners’

Wednesday 1 June 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion

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LETTERS: ‘Let’s keep the faith in who are our most important partners’

Dear Sir, I applaud Nick Reeves for his thought provoking letter published in Cook Islands News on Tuesday that highlighted a number of high priority issues and challenges that our country needs to take stock of.

 What is of the utmost importance is keeping the faith in terms of who are our most important partners. New Zealand and Australia. Not just in the past and currently but in the future as well.

We are Cook Islanders, but also New Zealand citizens. The bond between New Zealand and Cook Islands is uniquely special so needs to be treasured at all times.

Politicians come and go, but our special relationship will remain just that. Special and long term. We have always received special treatment from New Zealand and the tens of millions of dollars in funding that New Zealand provided over two years to our country during the closure of our borders due to Covid-19 is testament of that country's generosity and recognition of the special bond between ourselves. Staying loyal through the good and tough times.

Make no mistake, it is a genuine partnership that is based on historical and existing ties which we are blessed with and which is the envy of our Pacific Island countries. And because of this special relationship, this has entitled us to hold New Zealand passports that allow us free access and therefore employment for our people in both New Zealand and Australia.

We are so lucky in this regard and as far as I'm concerned, New Zealand will always be our big brother, looking after the best, long terms interests of our small country.  

The level of trust and respect between both countries needs to be always taken into consideration when our political Leaders entertain forging closer diplomatic ties with other countries.  

This brings me to China. I know that in recent months a number of Pacific Island countries have been snuggling up to China as it spreads its wings into our backyard.

To some degree, they cannot be blamed as these countries are extremely poor with large portions of their working population unemployed and facing severe financial hardships on a daily basis.

The leaders of these countries are desperate to explore diplomatic and economic opportunities to better the lives of their people and China reckons it can help. Yeah right. A bit like every project in the Cook Islands that China built for us using their own inferior materials and shoddy workmanship.

And guess who is now paying for the repairs? Us taxpayers.  

So in his phone call with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, perhaps our Prime Minister needs to remind Yi of the tens of millions of dollars spent by our own Government to repair all the shoddy Chinese projects from the Ministry of Justice, Police HQ building, Indoor Stadium at Tereora, the replacement of the water pipes in Muri and the primary school building in Nikao.

For the Cook Islands, thankfully we don't face the same level of daunting challenges that our neighbouring cousins do. So we must be bold and remain steadfast in our loyalty to New Zealand. The same goes with our tight bonds with Australia where so many of our Cook Islanders are employed these days, raking in the big bucks working in construction. This is more so with China desperately seeking to take their relationships with Pacific Island countries to a new level, for it's own geopolitical agenda.  For all Pacific Island countries, this is both high stakes and uncharted and which may likely result in long term consequences that will be out of our control.

To conclude, I am heartened that both our Prime Minister Mark Brown, and the Leader of the Opposition, Tina Browne, have similar views about China's rapid push into our region. Be extremely cautious, yet polite. Keep them at arm’s length, and refrain from committing to initiatives where we are merely pawns in a dangerous game of russian roulette. Remain loyal to New Zealand and Australia.  Better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the Dragon.

Regards

Proud Cook Islands Kiwi