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About Cook Islands

Cook Islands is located between French Polynesia and American Samoa. It is self-governing in ‘free association’ with New Zealand. That means that while it administers its own affairs, Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens who are free to live and work here. More than 62,000 Cook Island Māori live in New Zealand.

Find out more about Cook Islands.


Most of the goods traded between New Zealand and Cook Islands are exports from New Zealand to Cook Islands. Tourism is the main driver of growth with visitor numbers in 2018 hitting a record high of almost 170,000.

Tourists are mostly from New Zealand (approx. 61%) and Australia (approx. 13%). Tourism arrivals are projected to continue growing through to 2020/2021, due to increased flights into Rarotonga. 

2018 statistics

Two-way trade

NZD$433 million*


Goods exports to Cook Islands

NZD$124 million*

Top exports: fuel, food, machinery, transport and equipment

Goods imports from Cook Islands

NZD$2 million*

Top imports: pearls, fruit and vegetables, machinery, iron and steel



GDP per capita USD$24,215^  

Sources: *MBIE Trade Intelligence May 2019 (external link)  ^Cook Islands Budget Book (external link)

Development cooperation

New Zealand’s development cooperation with Cook Islands focuses on strengthening the public sector, especially building capacity in health, education and tourism. It also includes supporting critical water, sanitation and communications infrastructure.

Our shared values and goals are set out in a Joint Commitment for Development [PDF, 1 MB].

Find out more about our current priorities, achievements and activities in Cook Islands.


Recent official visits

New Zealand to Cook Islands
  • May 2019: Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Minister for Fisheries and Police, Stuart Nash, and Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, Fletcher Tabuteau, travelled to Cook Islands for the 6th Joint Ministerial Forum
  • March 2019: Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon. Aupito William Sio, attended two-day Climate Change Roundtable, hosted by Cook Islands Government
  • March 2018: Senior Officials visited Cook Islands for the first Joint Ministerial Forum Working Group
  • March 2018: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and a New Zealand delegation visited Cook Islands during the Pacific Mission
Cook Islands to New Zealand
  • May 2019 :  Prime Minister Puna visited New Zealand for the National Just Transition Summit
  • April 2019 : Senior officials visited New Zealand for the Joint Ministerial Forum Working Group
  • March 2019 :  Prime Minister Puna represented Cook Islands at the National Memorial Service for those who died in the terrorist attacks in Christchurch
  • November 2018 : Prime Minister Puna attended the Manatua Cable signing ceremony with Pacific leaders from French Polynesia, Samoa and Niue
  • April 2018: Prime Minister Henry Puna, Finance Minister Mark Brown, Health Minister Nandi Glassie, Internal Affairs Minister Albery Nicholas and a Cook Islands delegation visited for bilateral discussions and the fifth Joint Ministerial Forum in Waitangi

News & Events

Aviation partnership makes Pacific airways safer

Cook Islands
Solomon Islands

Commercial air travel in the Pacific is now safer and more reliable following the completion of a four-year programme improving air navigation across the region.

Improved access to essential medicines for Polynesia


Improved access to essential medicines in Polynesia following support from New Zealand will help Pacific people live healthier lives, MFAT Deputy Secretary Jonathan Kings announced on 3 October 2019.

Measles outbreak in New Zealand

Latin America
Middle East
North America
North Asia
South Asia
South East Asia
United Kingdom

Find out more about the current outbreak of measles in New Zealand.