HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 579: 31 August 2011

18 head for Pacific Leaders Forum
Cook Islands participation at the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum. An important national undertaking.

On Tuesday, Cabinet released the program and details of next week’s Pacific Islands Leaders Forum and related meetings in New Zealand.
Cabinet confirmed that four Ministers would attend being-
• The Prime Minister, Hon. Henry Puna,
• The Deputy Prime Minister/Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Tom Marsters;
• Minister for Fisheries, Hon. Teina Bishop; and
• Minister of Finance, Hon. Mark Brown.
By invitation of the New Zealand government, due to the NZ Prime Minister’s other commitments, our Prime Minister will begin his Forum commitments with a special bilateral meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Hon. John Key on Sunday 4 September 2011. They will discuss key issues that will be covered during the Leaders’ Summit, including the possibility of the Cook Islands hosting next year’s Forum.
The Pacific Island Forum is the supreme decision-making body at a regional level and leaders at their annual meeting will be making decisions on a wide range of issues of importance to the Cook Islands and other countries in our region.
During the Forum, the Cook Islands will participate actively in:
• a comprehensive series of at least nine bilateral meetings,
• a special Lowry Institute lecture series;
• three formal leaders meetings;
• seven panel discussions;
• several plenary sessions;
• Ministerial informal discussions;
• private sector dialogue;
• daily press and media conferences; and
• there will be separate programs for Prime Ministers and Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
Many of these meetings and sessions will run in parallel, requiring separate Ministers and staff to attend these different meetings, to ensure all national and regional responsibilities are attended to effectively. This year’s Forum activities are very comprehensive and programmed requiring a high degree of participation by the Cook Islands Ministers and officials in support.
The Cook Islands participation at this year’s Forum is an important undertaking given that should its offer to host next year’s Forum meeting be accepted, the Cook Islands will be responsible not only for hosting the 2012 Forum but also for chairing the Forum for the succeeding year. The Cook Islands is serious about maximising the benefits for the country at the Forum meeting including the various bilateral meetings that will take place so key people are included in the delegation to cover all possible angles. One senior Foreign Affairs protocol staff, who would be responsible for the logistics of a 2012 Forum in the Cook Islands, will be observing the operations and protocols of this year’s Forum.
One of Government’s highest priorities is to promote the Cook Islands’ active participation in regional organisations of which it is a member with a view to adopting regional strategies and initiatives to achieve the Cook Islands own sustainable development objectives.
As an example, Fisheries as an important issue for meetings with several Forum Dialogue Partners. The same also applied to topics such as renewable energy.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has indicated that it was also very important for the achievement of the country’s foreign policy objectives for the Cook Islands to participate actively in the Forum meetings.
These priorities combined with the comprehensive nature of the Forum and the Cook Islands possible role in hosting next year’s event, underpins the decision to take a strong delegation. Cabinet considers it important for Ministers to spearhead discussions at the Forum and for key officials to provide support and facilitate linkages with government officials from other countries.
As guests of the New Zealand Government, all Forum Leaders will be attending the opening ceremony and first game of the Rugby World Cup in Auckland.
Ministers will be accompanied by relevant senior staff from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration and the Ministry of Marine Resources.
• Two staff are from the Prime Minister’s Ministerial support office,
• One staff is from the Office of the Prime Minister;
• One staff is from the Foreign Minister’s Ministerial support office;
• Four staff are from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; and
• One staff is from the Ministry of Marine Resources.
• The Cook Islands High Commissioner in Wellington and Consular Affairs Officer in Auckland will also be present at the Forum.
In keeping with the nature of these meetings, Ministers will be accompanied by high level staff to advise, assist and support them. The development and improvement of networking between senior Governments officials on a face-to-face basis is also a key outcome of attending in support of their respective Ministers.
Two non-government representatives being a representative from the Chamber of Commerce and CIANGO will be attending the Forum at no cost to government.
The Prime Minister will be accompanied to the Forum by Mrs. Puna.

Mrs. Marsters, who is already accredited to the Forum, will join the Deputy Prime Minister on the 2nd day at the Forum, following her representation of the Cook Islands in sport at the Pacific Games in Noumea. While in Auckland, she will be participating in various NGO related activities.
The total cost for Cook Islands delegation will be approximately $48,000.
These costs will be allocated between the Civil List, Ministerial Offices and respective line Ministry budgets.
The cost of the attendance of the Minister of Finance will be met by the Lowry Institute.
The in-country costs of accommodation, security and transport in New Zealand for the PM and the DPM are being met by the New Zealand Government.
Foreign Affairs Media Release

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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