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Draft Population Policy open for public comment

Monday 11 July 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Economy, National

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Draft Population Policy open for public comment
Photo: TOURISM COOK ISLANDS/22061706

The first Cook Islands draft Population Policy is now open for public comment, to ensure population trends and dynamics are considered when government planning is underway.

Now in its final draft stages, the development of the Cook Islands Population Policy began in 2020 led by the Central Policy and Planning Unit (CPPO) of the Office of the Prime Minister. 

A working committee was formed to provide input across the various stages of planning, followed by the draft being shared across sectors for further input.

This has led to the current draft which opened to the public on Friday, July 8, for their input, views and comments for a two-week period.

“We’ve learnt the demographic transition in the Cook Islands is already well-advanced. The Cook Islands does not have the high birth and death rates typical of less developed countries, that phase was passed through two decades ago,” said director of CPPO, Valery Wichman.

“This means that our policy is not directed at reducing our overall birth rate as with traditional population policies, we have a different set of issues arising from a rapidly changing age structure and our patterns of emigration and immigration.”

Having done a wide consultation with stakeholders ensured the policy is consistent with community views and national aspirations, added Wichman.

“We are hopeful this policy will address the challenges that our population policy is facing. These are issues from age structure change, our population mobility, maintaining Pa Enua populations and changing causes of death. There is also the emigration from the Cook Islands and freedom of movement which are our fundamental human rights and cannot be restricted by government policy.

“In our case, we have the freedom to move to New Zealand, and also the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement in which Cook Islanders can freely enter Australia. There are many pull factors to other countries which are difficult to overcome. We are hopeful this policy provides our government with the best advice in the face of all of these challenges,” Wichman said.

Developed under the supervision of the CPPO, the policy was formed by a population specialist with support from a local consultant. 

The current draft policy is open for comment from July 8 to Friday, July 22, contact the Central Policy and Planning Office for further information on cppo@cookislands.gov.ck or +682 25494.