A Cook Islands opposition MP says the government is putting the country's relationship with New Zealand at risk by pursuing United Nations membership.
A statement from a spokesperson for the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, says if the Cook Islands wants UN membership, the constitutional relationship, including the current shared citizenship will need to change.
The Cook Islands Foreign Affairs Ministry argues that there is nothing about having your own and separate citizenship in the criteria for joining the UN.
But Murienua MP, James Beer, says it's very clear that the United Nations charter deals with sovereign countries, and the Cook Islands is not a sovereign country.
"The fear that most Cook Islanders have is that the relationship between the Cook Islands and New Zealand, and having New Zealand citizenship and passports, are extremely relevant to the lifestyles and the peace of mind for all Cook Islanders. And our feeling is that this action, this unilateral action that's being taken by the Prime Minister, is putting that relationship at risk."