31 Mar 2017

UN seat remains long-term goal for Cook Islands

11:43 am on 31 March 2017

The Cook Islands has not given up on getting an independent seat at the United Nations but says it is not a priority at the moment.

New Zealand had knocked back the government's aspirations for a seat, saying it was not an option if the Cook Islands wanted to retain New Zealand passports for its people.

The Cook Islands 'free association' relationship with New Zealand leaves Wellington responsible for defence.

While the Cook Islands is responsible for its foreign policy and is a member of some UN agencies, it is represented by New Zealand at the main international body.

The Acting Prime Minister Mark Brown said New Zealand citizenship was very important and people didn't want to lose the link between the two countries.

Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown

Mr Brown said the Cook Islands are still interested in UN seat Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

Mr Brown said there were other things the Cook Islands wanted like further relaxing residency criteria for Cook Islanders eligible for New Zealand pensions.

"We would be pushing for that," he said.

"The UN matter for us is something that we'll be looking at more long-term.

"It may come up again in the future for us to pursue but again from our perspective, membership of the UN has got nothing to do with the special relationship that we have with New Zealand."

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