21 Aug 2015

Puna challenges Cooks diaspora to help country

2:17 pm on 21 August 2015
Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna speaks at the 50th anniversary of self government for the Cook Islands. 2015

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna speaks at the 50th anniversary of self government for the Cook Islands. Photo: Cook Islands Government

The Cook Islands Prime Minister, Henry Puna, says one of his challenges is to compel Cook Islanders who live abroad to contribute to the development of the country, even if they won't return.

Mr Puna is in New Zealand as an official guest of the Government to celebrate the 50th anniversary of self government in free association with New Zealand

He says because Cook Islanders, as New Zealand citizens, are free to travel to New Zealand and Australia, they can't be stopped from travelling.

"The challenge for me as Prime Minister is to engage with these Cook Islanders, although they may not come home, you know we need to tap into them. have a relationship with them, so that they feel compelled to contribute, from wherever they may be, to the development and the growth of the Cook Islands, moving forward."

Mr Puna says although there are over 100 thousand Cook Islanders, with only about 15 thousand in the Cook Islands, the country does not have a serious de-population issue.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs