There were unspoken concerns that New Zealand’s blockade of Cooks tourism was being driving by election campaign politics; now there’s no doubt about it.
David Seymour, leader of New Zealand’s Act party, is calling for the country to “immediately open green lanes for our Covid-free Pacific neighbours”.
The new pressure comes ahead of an expected announcement today about Cook Islands’ Covid-19 response, in the travel ban.
Speaking to about 600 supporters at a campaign launch in Auckland, Seymour asked: “What’s wrong with ... New Zealanders going to Rarotonga? This is a geopolitical imperative. If we don’t wrap our arms around our Pacific neighbours, someone else will.”
Seymour criticised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, saying her only justification for turning away passengers from Cook Islands was that it would be impossible to separate the passengers.
“If we can’t open up to COVID-free countries that are essentially part of New Zealand anyway, then what can we do?”