Henry Puna

Former Cook Islands PM Henry Puna is new PIF Secretary General

Also on the agenda of the Special Leaders Retreat was the COVID-19 pandemic, including the distribution of vaccines to the region.  

A statement said leaders acknowledged the region’s efforts to date to manage the spread of the COIVD-19 pandemic in the Pacific region, including through the establishment and operationalisation of the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19.  

Call for decision on Cooks Sunday flights

In a referendum in April, a majority of the island's population voted to end Sunday flights to and from Rarotonga, with those wanting the ban saying Sunday is a sacred day when businesses shouldn't operate.

The prime minister, Henry Puna, called the referendum as part of a campaign promise in the lead-up to a by-election on the island, but has still not said whether he will honour the result.

The corporation's director of destination development, Metua Vaiimene, says the tourism industry is firmly in support of keeping the flights.

PM stands by Manihiki advance

The money was urgently paid to the land claimants while they were in Rarotonga for Te Maeva Nui celebrations so they could go shopping before returning to Manihiki.

In a rare statement issued by his press officer Trevor Pitt, PM Puna professed to be surprised that a complaint had been laid with police about the threats made by the  land claimants to vandalise the two solar power plants on Manihiki if they weren’t paid out.

Broadcasting deal will bring region together - Cooks PM

Henry Puna says the move to provide up to eight hours a day of free-to-air New Zealand content, including top rugby action, would be beneficial not only for sports fans.

Mr Puna says he is looking forward to the cultural exchanges that will occur via broadcasting.

"We're looking forward to seeing all of these programmes. There will be some educational programmes that will be good for the kids, and for us adults Tagata Pasifika and the Māori programmes will be very, very welcome."

Cook Islands PM off to Papua New Guinea

Puna returned from his official visit to New Zealand last Tuesday and leaves on Thursday for the Pacific Islands Forum in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Puna will travel to Papua New Guinea via Auckland to attend a meeting of the Polynesian Leaders Group on Saturday.

On Sunday he will travel to Papua New Guinea, and will return to Rarotonga on September 12. Puna is being accompanied by a range of officials.

Minister of Finance Mark Brown will be back at work today after accompanying Puna to New Zealand.

Cooks anti-homosexual laws targeted

Homosexual acts in the country are punishable with a prison term of up to five years.

Te Tiare Association supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and says the newly-launched United Nations Pacific Free and Equal campaign has sparked a conversation about acceptance.

Its secretary, Valentino Wichman, says there has been minimal opposition to its plans to repeal laws that criminalise homosexuality.

Gay rights gain support online in Cook Islands

The support comes following an article in CI News on Monday in which Prime Minister Henry Puna said he would not be following the United Nations’ ‘free and equal’ campaign.

Prime Minister Henry Puna first expressed opposition to the legalisation of same-sex marriage on April 28, 2013.

Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in New Zealand, PM Puna said his government would not be following New Zealand's move.

Cook Islands to decide on compulsory retirement age

There's currently no mandatory retirement age in public service legislation or policy, although Cook Islanders are eligible for the old age pension at 60.

Prime Minister Henry Puna has said he wants to commence a process of regenerating the public service, to provide better opportunities for younger Cook Islanders.

In June, the government announced a one-off voluntary retirement package for public servants aged 60 and over in a bid to free up government positions.