Cook Islands High Commission to re-occupy Chancery

Earthquake damage to State Highway 1, south of Kaikoura. Picture: AFP

RAROTONGA, 10 OCTOBER 2018 (PACNEWS) – Cook Islands High Commission operations will return to its Chancery premises at Mulgrave Street, Thorndon, Wellington next month following a prolonged period of absence brought about by the November 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake.

The forced relocation of High Commission operations, directed by the Wellington City Council, was a consequence of significant structural damage to Revera House, an adjacent neighboring 10 story buiding.

Revera House was one of a number of multi-story buildings in the Wellington CBD area which required demolition following the 2016 earthquakes, its proximity to the Cook Islands Chancery requiring High Commission staff vacate the Chancery property.

Since the evacuation, High Commission operations have been delivered from temporary facilities in the nearby New Zealand Red Cross Building.

“We’re delighted to be able to relocate our High Commission staff and operations to the Chancery and acknowledge with gratitude the services and contributions of Teremoana Yala as High Commissioner through what has been a period of some upheaval for High Commission operations,” said MFAI Secretary Tepaeru Herrmann.

Yala, came out of retirement in 2016 to assume the High Commissioner role following the end of tenure of Tekaotiki Matapo. Over the last two years, the High Commissioner has in collaboration with MFAI headquarters in Rarotonga, worked to further streamline and professionalise the operations of the High Commission.

Also, during Yala’s tenure, the Cook Islands have formalised diplomatic relations with a number of additional countries.

Yala completed her tenure at the end of June 2018, and Deputy High Commissioner Karo Ngatoko, promoted to the role earlier this year, has assumed the Acting High Commissioner post since.

Ngatoko, an alumnus of the University of Waikato and past President of the Waikato University Cook Islands Association welcomes the return of High Commission operations to the Chancery.

“We’re really looking forward to being back in our offices, and being able to offer the full suite of diplomatic, protocol and consular services,” said Ngatoko.

The High Commission is integral to the effectiveness of MFAI operations, being the only full diplomatic mission the Cook Islands has abroad.

In addition to being the conduit for the Cook Islands Government relations with the New Zealand Government, it is also conduit for the Cook Islands relations with 34 countries that have diplomatic relations with the Cook Islands and have an Embassy in Wellington.

“MFAI is a small organisation (25 staff) responsible for delivering the nation’s immigration and foreign
affairs services,” said Secretary Herrmann.

“Our staff operate in an environment that in many ways, is different from most other government agencies.

We’re spread across three offices presently (Rarotonga, Wellington and Auckland), with a fourth office, Suva, coming online within the next 12-18 months. And, we need to operate across the domestic environment and out into an unpredictable and volatile international environment. The capabilities of our staff, as individuals, and as a collective unit are therefore integral to our ability to deliver on governments foreign and immigration policy objectives.”

The Ministry expect to confirm the incoming High Commissioner for Wellington by the end of the month.

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