The Cook Islands' Minister of Finance says the government is committed to delivering a high standard of services to the country's sparsely populated outer islands to encourage people to stay.
Mark Brown gave a presentation on the development challenges for Pacific Island countries to an audience in Wellington yesterday.
He talked about the difficulties that the geography of the Cook Islands presents, where 15 islands are scattered over an area of about 2 million square kilometers, an area about the size of Western Europe.
He says there's a significant cost in maintaining services on the outer islands but says it's important that the government creates conditions to entice people to stay or return to live.
"We see that we need to invest in health, we need to invest in schools. We need to make sure that the expectation of a standard of living that they would have on Rarotonga is going to be similiar to what they have in the outer islands so we're committed to that."