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Cook Islands support NZ Pacific reset

Cook Islands deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown says the Pacific nation support's New Zealand Government Pacific 'reset'.

Opening the inaugural Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) CEO’s Summit in Auckland Tuesday, Brown says the process to ‘shift the dial’ on New Zealand’s foreign policy direction in the Pacific is a great move.

“My Government committed to engage proactively in the process.

“To be frank, I anticipate that it will not unduly change the way that the Cook Islands works, but it may have an impact on the way New Zealand engages with the Pacific region, depending on the translation of the commitment into the Pacific reset and the shifting the dial. 

“I stress this as it relates to traditional donor-recipient relationships,” he said.

Brown is of the view, a Pacific reset by New Zealand for the Pacific requires a responsive development agenda delivered through national processes and national systems. 

“The Cook Islands wholeheartedly supports the Pacific reset because as the Rt Hon. Winston Peters put it, New Zealand’s principles to steer Pacific diplomacy are ‘understanding’ the Pacific better; demonstrating friendship, including honesty, empathy, trust and respect; mutual benefit; collective ambition with Pacific partners and external actors on a shared understanding of what we are trying to achieve; and finally, importantly sustainability.
Without a doubt, New Zealand has comparative advantage amongst development partners working in the Pacific as a consequence of history and its Pacifika New Zealand resident population. What better way to ‘reset’, than use this advantage to deliver to the Pacific,” Brown said.

He said many in the Pacific will judge the sincerity of the reset on how New Zealand responds to the critical challenges in the region. 

“Climate change, the existential threat to our small islands. How will New Zealand engage in implementing the Boe Declaration signed by Pacific during the 2018 Leaders Forum in Nauru. What do we do together to maintain the health of our ocean?. How do we raise the standard of living across a region that despite its commonalities has starkly differing levels of development? What does success look like for the Cook Islands in addressing these development challenges?. It looks like a genuine commitment to help Pacific Island countries raise their ambitions, including in the international and multilateral arena.

“Stronger climate change ambitions, standing in solidarity with Pacific countries as they fight for their livelihoods on the international stage.  It has been difficult for traditional (Western countries) to understand that climate issues are not separate and distinct from development issues.  They must acknowledge and accept in the Pacific in particular that every development priority has a climate change component – whether it is infrastructural, economic, environmental, social or cultural. Development finance and climate change finance are both sides of the same coin," Brown said.


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