Some thoughts on Cook Islands’ future

Monday March 12, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor
Prime minister Henry Puna and his government have plenty to think about regarding the Cook Islands’ future, a letter-writer says. 18031103 Prime minister Henry Puna and his government have plenty to think about regarding the Cook Islands’ future, a letter-writer says. 18031103

Dear Editor

With all the recent public discussion concerning foreign workers, rights of PR holders, Cook Island citizenship (if there is such a thing?) I was recently asked, as a resident foreigner, what I thought of all this.


I didn’t reply, as one doesn’t voluntarily step into a minefield. However, I have continued to think! As a precursor to sharing my thoughts, which are directed toward discussion not confrontation first here is a short description of the basis of my views.

I have lived and worked – not just visited, 10 countries on five continents - with my wife and family in most cases, and mostly without fear or persecution.

I have co-existed and worked with Anglos, French, Africans, Dutch, Germans, Pakistanis, Polynesians, Arabs, Lebanese, Indians, Berbers and Quechua people (do you get the point?) and with reasonable success.

I have been exposed to Mormons, Moslems, Catholics, Christians of so many stripes I don’t remember them all, Hindus and good old rednecks, with various levels of respect.

I have navigated through many varieties of foreign affairs paperwork and immigration officialdom.

Lastly, I have observed every form of racial and religious bigotry you could imagine. There have been rotten lowlifes everywhere I’ve travelled: users and abusers - but don’t let anyone tell you they are attributable to any race or religion and neither are they in the majority. There are good people everywhere who only want the same things that you do for themselves and their families. My personal experience is that bigotry is most apparent in people with low self-esteem, inferiority complexes or sometimes, narcissistic egos

And this is what I think: After 50 years of reasonable success, Cook Islanders need to take a very hard, thoughtful look at the future of the country and discuss the way forward. Because we have some very serious questions already occurring and they won’t be cured by knee-jerk reaction or praying or telling expats, “If you don’t like it go home”.

Really, every time someone brings up the subject of “Pooh-Bahs”, I break-up because we have actually created our own breed of Pooh-Bahs to run the country over the last 50 years. The old ones are long gone and the new ones are – well ? I mean think of an official “sail-past”, when we only have one patrol boat given to us by Australia. Really!

Without digressing into the political miasma, if you want to be a respected member of the world’s nations you have to observe human rights as entrenched in our constitution. You have to treat people equally under the law and start thinking about adjusting to inevitable changing times.

The Cook Islands has to have outsiders here to exist economically. Get use to it: half your rellies are foreign these days anyway and if the 60,000 “Kuki Airani” living overseas got sent home tomorrow because the Kiwis and Aussies didn’t like them, then where would we be?

I’m writing these things because I want people to think and discuss and try a little humanity. No outsider is stealing your land. They are working and paying taxes because there is no-one else to do it. One thing I’ve always found wherever I have lived is that human nature seems to require people have “somebody to look down on.” Well, 40 years ago I remember clearly, the people who were looked down on were outer islanders in Raro. Then, with the blossoming political elite, it became “Pooh-Bahs”.

Now where are we and where are we going?

We know there is no “Cook Island” citizenship only New Zealand right?

So how do you define a Cook Islander and when are we going to define it and legislate it and just what rights will it carry and for how many generations, I wonder?

Hope I can start some worthwhile discussion – not bigoted denial and argument.

Hey I Was Asked What I Thought!

            (Name and address supplied)

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