The arrival of the jet, owned by Taiwan’s EVA Corporation but leased to Air New Zealand while some of their aircraft undergo unscheduled maintenance, sparked a host of conspiracy theories.
In one Facebook post, a Cook Islander living in Australia declared: “Don't be fooled by it all. We knew it was going to happen one day, and now it is here. Looks like Air NZ company is subleasing second hand airline to do the LA and Sydney run because it is unable to purchase or upgrade a new Air NZ Boeing plane.
“If this is the case, then the Cook Is government should reduce its subsidy share to Air NZ under the underwrite contract. It should do so if this is a second hand airline disguised as a new plane.
“Our share of the public finance should not continue the subsidy to Air NZ unless they come out clean about this new plane.”
That was quickly rebutted by a local, who asked: “Do you send your taxes from Western Australia? We that live here pay taxes - you don't. So make your comments just be mindful that ‘we’, the taxpayers of the Cook Islands, doesn't include yourself.
Honestly get so tired of those who choose to live elsewhere, with an opinion on everything.
“Read the headline…Air New Zealand has leased a plane as its planes are being serviced.”
Though they were incorrect, someone else posted a message saying the jet had landed to pick up the family and the body of a Taiwanese man who had drowned at Aitutaki in a kayaking accident.
“He happened to be the Leader of the Opposition Party in Taiwan. It was a tragedy that should not have happened.
“In hindsight we can put in place frameworks though (to) ensure that it doesn't happen again in the Cook Islands.
“Its impact will be felt across Australasia (regarding the Cook Islands) as a people-friendly tourist destination.”