The New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands wants to help the economic development of the remote northern islands so fewer people will feel inclined to move away.
John Carter, who has recently travelled to Manihiki and Rakahanga, and will next week go to Penrhyn, says depopulation remains a critical issue.
He says the New Zealand aid programme is working with the Cook Islands government on the matter and one place to start is the cost of sea and air links.
Mr Carter cites the high cost of freight shipped to the islands and those ships returning empty.
"So it means primarily that the cost of your access, whether it be by ship or by air, is twice as much. If we were able to get a system that said yes we can take goods up to the islands but also bring freight back, some food back, to either service Rarotonga or go on down to the wider markets in New Zealand or Australia, it halves the cost."
The New Zealand High Commissioner, John Carter.