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Wright-Koteka appointed ICI head

Thursday 2 February 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in National, Politics

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Wright-Koteka appointed ICI head
From left-right: Carl Hunter, Public Service Commissioner, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, Secretary of Infrastructure Cook Islands, and Albert Nicholas, Minister of Infrastructure Cook Islands. SUPPLIED/ 23020110

Former Cook Islands high commissioner to New Zealand, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka has been appointed the new Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI).

The appointment for a term of three years was approved and confirmed by the Cabinet, said the Office of the Public Service Commissioner (OPSC) in a statement yesterday.

Wright-Koteka, who served as the chief of staff for the Office of the Prime Minister before taking up the diplomatic role, will replace outgoing head of ICI, Tamarii Tutangata.

According to the statement, Wright-Koteka has vast institutional knowledge on a number of recent capital projects as well as experience in management and administration. It is envisaged that she will support the development of the capacity in ICI, by delivering mentoring support as well as identifying training opportunities for employees to enhance their in-house expertise.

Wright-Koteka served as Cook Islands Energy Commissioner during her term at Prime Minister’s Office for two years from October 2016 to October 2018.

“Wright- Koteka also facilitated the Mei Te Vai Ki Te Vai public consultation with the engineering and civil works company GHD in December 2017; and was a team member of the social and cultural assessment of reticulated sanitation for Muri, Rarotonga funded under the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in September 2018 – January 2019,” the statement said.

“During her most recent appointment as Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand, Wright- Koteka’s leadership was pivotal in Government’s successful response to Covid-19. She led a tiny team of Cook Islands diplomats based in Wellington in collaborating and coordinating with diplomatic partners and external donors to secure much needed support for our Covid-19 response plan.”

The recruitment process was led by the Public Service Commissioner, Carl Hunter, who commented that “Wright-Koteka meets essential knowledge, skills, and experience requirements for the role. She is an inclusive leader who leads with shared responsibility and she strongly encourages her team to be results oriented and part of the solution”.

“Despite the significant challenges faced by ICI in terms of the timely roll-out of major national infrastructure projects over the coming years, I have every confidence and trust that Wright-Koteka will capitalise on the great work that  Mr Tamarii Tutangata has achieved during his 14 months at the helm of the Ministry, of course with the support of his ICI team.

“I have worked with Wright-Koteka on numerous occasions in the past so I am fully aware of her all-round capabilities and commitment once she’s accepted and set her mind to a task or mission to undertake. That’s what she has done in this instance and so I look forward to working with Wright-Koteka during her tenure as Head of ICI.”

Hunter also conveyed his sincere gratitude to Tutangata “who has done a tremendous job in steering ICI towards a position whereby the Ministry is able to better deliver the services it is mandated to provide”.

Minister for ICI Albert Nicholas welcomed Wright-Koteka’s appointment to this “important and busy role”.

“ICI is a vital Ministry that is responsible for rolling out a significant number of on-going infrastructure projects as well as those in the pipeline including in relation to the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting to be hosted by the Cook Islands at the end of this year.”

Minister Nicholas also acknowledged the commitment and dedication of Tutangata, “whose effective and efficient management of large national projects, and management and inclusive style had a positive impact on the Ministry”.

Wright-Koteka will lead a team of over 100 “committed and hard-working employees”, and she has highlighted that she will be strengthening ICI’s partnerships with key government ministries including Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, Cook Islands Investment Corporation, Crown Law, Office of the Public Service Commissioner and National Environment Service.