11 Mar 2009

Cook Islands govt wants answers from New Zealand over Air NZ

12:40 pm on 11 March 2009

The Cook Islands Government is demanding an explanation from New Zealand over a plan to underwrite Air New Zealand services to Samoa and Tonga.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key announced this week its important to help Pacific islands countries like Samoa and Tonga by underwriting air new zealand services, in the face of their possible discontinuation.

But the Cook Islands signed its own deal with Air New Zealand last year, and the foreign minister, Wilkie Rasmussen, says if New Zealand is to subsidise Tonga and Samoa, the Cooks should also be a part of it.

"It's not a fair strategy to be sort of favouring two countries and the Cook Islands is left on its own to basically support itself through difficult times. We initiated early discussions with Air New Zealand and entered into an agreement at a time when we thought it would be the best strategy for the Cook Islands."

Wilkie Rasmussen says the Cook Islands approached the NZ government almost 2 years ago, and was told New Zealand wouldn't enter into such arrangements.