Cook Islands

Cook Islanders get ready to go to the polls

Voters will have four parties, and a movement calling for a collegial approach to government, to choose from.

Cook Islands politics has been dominated for years by the Cook Islands Party led by the current Prime Minister Mark Brown - a man who is very confident of holding on to power.

He believes his government has done a very good job keeping the country together in very trying circumstances over the past two or so years.

There are 69 candidates in all contesting the poll, and one, marine scientist Teina Rongo, hopes this election will be third time lucky for him.

Cook Islanders go to the polls on August 1

The election August 1 date was announced on Tuesday by The Queen's representative Sir Tom Marsters on national radio.

The Chief Electoral Officer, Taggy Tangimetua said the 49-day turnaround to polling day is the "shortest she has ever seen in the Cook Islands."

The Cook Islands Electoral office said voter registration is open until June 20th, while nominations for election candidates open on June 21st and close on June 30th.

Pacific Maritime Safety Programme approved for another four years

The programme delivers maritime safety initiatives to seven Pacific Island countries – Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu.

The funding, from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2026, marks the fourth phase of the programme.

The PMSP is a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade programme, funded through the International Development Cooperation programme and delivered by Maritime NZ.

Cook Islands report first death

The 63-year-old woman died on the way to hospital on the island of Aitutaki, Prime Minister Mark Brown said in a statement.

"It is with great sadness that I announce that we have recorded our first in-country death attributed to Covid-19," Brown said.

"The deceased was a 63-year-old woman on the island of Aitutaki.

"She had had all three anti-Covid vaccinations, but also had several serious underlying health conditions."

"It is tragic, but not unexpected that we might lose someone to Covid.

Cook Islands eases some Covid restrictions

There is an increase in the number of people who can gather at outdoor events from 50 to 100.

The maximum limit for indoor spaces will continue to be 50 people.

Contact sport has resumed with the requirement of players to return a negative RAT result on the day of play.

Prime Minister Mark Brown said some sports codes are delaying the resumption of competition until after the Covid-19 outbreak in the Cook Islands has peaked.

He said there has been some push back on the charging of RAT tests for players and this is being reviewed for a better solution.

Cook Islands withdraw from FIFA World Cup qualifiers

With Vanuatu already out of the tournament in Qatar, Thursday's clash between Solomon Islands and Tahiti in Doha will now act as a single play-off match to determine the winner and runner-up of Group A, with both teams already assured of a spot in the semi-finals.

If the match is level at the end of 90 minutes, extra time will be played followed by penalties if required.

Cook Islands lift some Covid restrictions

As of this morning there had been 676 cases in the Cooks, with 206 having recovered and 470 still active.

The vast majority of these cases have been on Rarotonga, with several on Aitutaki.

The Prime Minister, Mark Brown, says while none of the Covid-19 victims in the country have needed hospital treatment, one case does have moderate symptoms.

He said this person is being supported by Te Marae Ora and other government agencies.

Mr Brown also said there are 14 active cases aged 70 or over and these people are also being closely monitored.

First Covid-19 case arrives in Aitutaki

The case is an Aitutaki resident, and the person is isolating at home.

Household contacts are currently being identified and are asked to quarantine.

Like Rarotonga, the population on Aitutaki is highly vaccinated and Prime Minister Mark Brown said they are prepared for this.

Over the weekend 24 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total number to 130.

R-A-T tests will be used to diagnose new cases in the Cook Islands as is occurring in New Zealand.

No additional PCR test will be required except for clinical reasons.

     

Cook Islands resort bans Russians

The Rarotongan Beach Resort and Lagoonarium, typically welcomes a few hundred Russian guests a year, but over the weekend this message appeared on its social media pages - 'With regret, Russians are banned from our hotels until every single Russian soldier has left Ukraine.'

The post has since been deleted but Tata Crocombe said he stands by his decision despite critics calling it 'discriminatory'.

However, Crocombe said the resort ban would eventually be softened to only apply to Russian citizens who support Vladimir Putin's war.

Cook Islands detects first Covid case

Prime Minister Mark Brown said this case was not connected to the visitor who tested positive for Omicron after leaving Rarotonga and arriving back in New Zealand last Monday.

He said this person - who is currently isolated and under observation at their private holiday accommodation - arrived in Rarotonga last Thursday.

They were a close contact of a family member in Auckland who tested positive on Sunday in New Zealand.

Brown said as a precaution this person got tested, and was asymptomatic, but she returned a positive result in just a few hours later.