Puna will replace the retiring Joe Brider who had been in this position since 2015 and who has left to pursue his other interests.
As Brider did not want to extend his contract for another term, the Office of the Public Service Commissioner led the recruitment process and Puna was one of the names shortlisted to Cabinet for the position.
Apart from being highly qualified and skilled in the Cook Islands government processes, he is fluent in both English and Cook Islands Maori.
It is envisaged that Puna will extend the full delivery of the Environment Service to the Pa Enua to reach those islands without full Environment Authority setup.
Puna has previously worked as a policy advisor for Infrastructure Cook Islands and the Office of the Prime Minister. He also served as the principal of Vaitau Primary School in Aitutaki and the head of the Mathematics Faculty at Tereora College.
Puna, who has the necessary management skills, will be fully supported by the technical expertise available in the Service. He has a Masters in Business Administration from USP and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Auckland majoring in Employment Relations and Organisational Management.
Puna’s visionary stance to future-proof our environment frameworks including an outdated 2003 NES Act and to reach out to all Pa Enua to fulfill its purpose as a National Agency - gave him a clear point of difference in the recruitment process and is what NES needs right now.
With all the infrastructure developments happening at such an incredible rate that our infrastructure and laws are not able to keep up – this requires a team player, a person with great communication skills and a passionate Cook Islander like Puna to lead this important agency.