25 Aug 2015

Cook Islanders in disbelief over PM's incorrect figures

2:25 pm on 25 August 2015

Cook Islands residents are raising concerns about the Prime Minister's leadership after he denied the country had a serious depopulation issue and quoted incorrect figures.

Henry Puna told New Zealand media last week the 1928 census showed a population of 2000, compared to the 14,000 now living in the country.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

But Ministry of Finance statistics show a population of just over 10,000 in 1928 and a 14 percent decline in the country's population over the last four years.

Our correspondent in the Cook Islands Florence Syme-Buchanan says people are getting tired of Mr Puna's misinformed and dismissive responses to the depopulation issue.

"There's been letters to the editor and people expressing disappointment or sheer disbelief that our Prime Minister would be making such misinformed statements. And there was one letter that actually said that it's because he's away so much of the time during the year on overseas trips that he is misinformed, that he is not aware of what's happening at home.

The Central Intelligence Agency Website also notes the Cook Islands has the second fastest depleting population rate in the world, falling just under Syria.