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Cook Islands and Australia strengthen maritime security cooperation

Tuesday 25 June 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Local, National

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Cook Islands and Australia strengthen maritime security cooperation
Australian Defence Advisor, Group Captain Andrew Hoffmann, right, with Australian High Commissioner to the Cook Islands HE Phoebe Smith, LTCDR David Longhurst and Te Kukupa II Chief Bosun Mate Colin Matangaro visit the police patrol boat last week. SUPPLIED/24062415

Australian Defence Advisor, Group Captain Andrew Hoffmann, visited Rarotonga from June 19 – 21.

This visit included discussions with key government agencies on regional security challenges, policing cooperation, and maritime surveillance priorities. Australia and Cook Islands work closely together on a number of Pacific security objectives, including through the Pacific Islands Forum and regional architecture.

The visit also provided time for Group Captain Hoffmann to meet the maritime police division who crew the Australian-gifted Guardian class patrol boat, Te Kukupa II, and learn more about the history of the Cook Islanders who fought alongside ANZAC troops at Gallipoli.

Group Captain Hoffmann said: “It was a privilege to visit the Cook Islands, and to see firsthand the Cook Islands Police Patrol Boat Te Kukupa II and to meet her crew.”

“It is a true partnership between Australia, New Zealand - who provide two advisers for the vessel - and the Cook Islands Police Service who operate the vessel as a sovereign asset. Secure seas contribute to a secure region.”

Under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Australia works with the Cook Islands Police to support the use of the Guardian Class Patrol Boat to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to protect borders.

Cook Islands Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said: “TEK II Chief Bosun Mate Colin Matangaro provided the Australian delegation with a tour. Matangaro has recently returned from Australia having completed a four-month programme, on track to attaining Navigator Officer qualification.”

“Police Maritime crew have stepped up the training opportunities provided by Australia to bolster the capacity of the Maritime Division in meeting its operational obligations. The support has been invaluable in ensuring the timely advancement of the patrol boat crew as Police contend with broader pressures of sustainability.

“The partnership with Australia under the Pacific Maritime Security Program remains a priority under the national security goals and the Defence Advisor plays a key role in facilitating the relationships necessary to building a successful network of surveillance and security for the region.”

Australian High Commissioner to the Cook Islands HE Phoebe Smith said: “Australia’s security and prosperity are inextricably linked to developments in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. It is important to maintain dialogue, through our diplomatic and defence channels, to work with partners to build a region that is peaceful, stable, prosperous and respectful of sovereignty and international law.”

“It has been even more vital to restore face to face discussions after the disruption of Covid, including with our officials from the broader Australian government. Group Captain Hoffmann’s visit helped establish important personal relationships, and I have no doubt we will see him return again soon.”