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

For the past three years, an increase in Cook Islands’ Gross National Income (GNI) has exceeded OECD’s Development Assistance Committee’s GNI threshold of USD$12,745 per capita. Earlier this year, the OECD reviewed Cook Islands’ eligibility for Official Development Assistance and confirmed that from 1 January 2020, Cook Islands will no longer be eligible for Official Development Assistance.

New Zealand has strong ties with Cook Islands and will continue to provide development assistance support.

What we’ve achieved already

  • Two new buildings at Tereora College, Cook Islands’ national secondary school, were opened by Prime Minister Ardern in 2018. This included a new administration and student research block, a new library, and a new technology block featuring a full commercial kitchen, new construction machinery and computer suites.
  • More than 3,000 Cook Islanders now access specialist health services each year as a result of New Zealand’s funding to Cook Islands’ health budget.
  • New Zealand has contributed technical assistance to help support a well-managed tourism sector that is the driving force of the Cook Islands economy, with tourism yield continuing to grow year on year and annual tourism numbers increasing from 125,130 in 2015 to 168,952 in 2018 (a 35 percent increase).

Current development priorities

  • Enhance Cook Islands’ self-reliance by helping to improve governance.
  • Support Cook Islands’ increased engagement regionally and with like-minded countries.
  • Support the sustainable development of the Cook Islands economy.

What we’re working on now

  • Te Mato Vai, a partnership between New Zealand, Cook Islands and China, will deliver safe drinking water to the people of Rarotonga when it is finished in 2020.
  • New Zealand continues to support Cook Islands’ Government’s budget for public services (health and education) and tourism.
  • New Zealand has contributed NZD$15 million in funding towards the Manatua Cable, which will bring reliable, high-speed internet to Cook Islands.  The Manatua Cable connects Cook Islands to Samoa and French Polynesia via a submarine cable.
  • New Zealand has committed up to NZD$30 million to the Mei Te Vai Ki Te Vai (MTVKTV) Wastewater Activity for sewage treatment in Muri to protect the sensitive lagoon environment. New Zealand is cooperating with Cook Islands to support social, cultural, and environmental impact assessments to assist good decision-making.

Evaluation and research reports