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Historic images highlight Cook Islands’ journey to self-government

Saturday 12 August 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Art, Features


Historic images  highlight Cook  Islands’ journey  to self-government
Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand, Kairangi Samuela and Labour MP for Palmerston North, Cook Islander Tangi Utikere, celebrate Cook Islands Maori Language Week. SUPPLIED/23081016

The Cook Islands High Commission in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand commemorated the nation’s 58th anniversary of self-government on Constitution Day with a captivating celebration which transported viewers back in time.

The August 4 event featured the screening of historical footage showcasing the Cook Islands in 1919, 1935 and 1965 – the year of the signing of independence – a significant milestone in the nation’s history. 

Kairangi Samuela, Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand, said the screening was a testament to the journey of the Cook Islands, and provided insight into the nation’s relationship with Aotearoa through an historical lens.

Samuela said our generation of leaders today were infants during this period, and to review and remember our parents and grandparents, and their roles in forging our future as a nation with New Zealand, had been quite emotional.

The significance of Aotearoa NZ’s government relationship with the Cook Islands was further cemented in the Waka Hourua Vaka Purua document – a partnership agreement between the two nations in 2022 which builds on the 2001 centennial declaration. It provides a framework that will guide the collaboration under four key priority areas: Prosperity, Wellbeing, Security and Environment.

Samuela said: “Cook Islands and Aotearoa New Zealand are bound by historic and cultural linkages and will continue to stand the test of time as our priorities shift, and we continue to pursue our individual and collective agendas.”

Last week also marked the Cook Islands Maori Language Week in Aotearoa NZ, promoting the theme of “Ātuitui'ia au ki te au peu o tōku kāinga Ipukarea - Connect me to the traditions and culture of my homeland”.

The High Commission was pleased to work and partner with the Cook Islands communities in their activities.

Samuela attended several events prearranged by Cook Islanders in their workplaces and communities. 

“It has certainly been an exciting week full of food, laughter and connections with our Cook Islands community,” she said.

“Te Reo Māori Kuki Airani week is not only about the pride Cook Islanders have for their heritage, it is also an effort to demonstrate and gain more knowledge about the customs, traditions and legacy of who they are.”

The Constitution Day event was celebrated with the diplomatic corps, Cook Islands community, Members of the New Zealand government, including staff from the National Library, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision, Alexander Turnbull Library and Archives New Zealand.

  • Additional reporting from The Cook Islands in NZ