The question, which was also the subject of last Saturday’s Street Poll, prompted varied answers from the public.
Some focused on finances, with Warren Wichman saying “A commitment to reduce debt would be a good place to start”, and Dorothy Hosking-Gavin calling on the government to “reduce the debt that we are in right now....live within our means”.
Ed Redman suggested one key improvement would be to “Stop tourists bringing in their own food so that they support the local economy”.
Other members of the public focused on employment issues. Tungane Goodwin Matapo said more effort should be made to employ locals before foreigners are brought in to fill job vacancies.
“Try and employ our own Cook Islands people to all available vacancies instead of employing papaa. Be honest, stop the corruption and don’t replace workers when the government changes unless they're not qualified.”
Mo Hosea wanted to see the government support and encourage more locals to start their own business.
“Presently the business owner statistics are uneven and non-Cook Islanders own the vast majority of business in the Cook Islands,” said Hosea.
Several people also wanted culture to be a priority for the next government. Marissa Summers suggested making Cook Islands Maori a compulsory part of the school curriculum until the age of 16, while a commentator called Pinky Chocbar asked for “Commitment to Arts and Culture – arts industry benefits go amiss because of lack of commitment and vision for the Ministry of Cultural Development”.
Health was also an area marked for improvement. Martha Nga called for attention to the health system all over the Cook Islands, saying: “Don’t wanna go to hospital in the middle of the night to only be told there’s no meds, gotta wait for the chemist to open in the morning.”
The issue of depopulation was also mentioned, with a member of the public suggesting that the government ask Cook Islanders what they want in order to return and stay in the Cooks.
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