Henry Puna

PIF Secretary General hopes dialogue can heal rift

Earlier this year Mr Puna, who had been Cook Islands prime minister, got the job ahead of the Marshall Island's candidate, Gerald Zackios.

This prompted the five Micronesian member countries to say they would leave the Forum because they expected the role to go to their candidate.

Groups within the Forum are currently trying to resolve the rift and Mr Puna said, while he is not involved, he puts great store in people talking through problems to resolve them.

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.  

Cook Islands PM says reopening borders a key priority

Henry Puna said it may be the only way to kick start the economy.

In locking down the country on the 5th of March, Mr Puna said he wouldn't compromise the health of his people for economic gains.

Speaking to the Cook Islands News this week, Mr Puna said the country remains Covid-19 free, and any reopening would have to ensure that it remained that way.

But he said the Rarotonga Hospital now has an isolation area and coronavirus testing kits.

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."

Cooks opposition MP says depopulation is a very real tragedy

Last week the Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna told New Zealand reporters the Cook Islands does not have a serious depopulation issue.

Figures obtained from the Ministry of Finance Statistics unit show in the last four years the Cook Islands resident population has declined by 14%.

The 2011 census had the resident population at 14,974. The latest figures released by Statistics show there are 12,900 people in the Cook Islands.

James Beer, says it's disappointing that leader of the country has not done the proper research, and is dismissive of the issue.

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.

Puna challenges Cooks diaspora to help country

Mr Puna is in New Zealand as an official guest of the Government to celebrate the 50th anniversary of self government in free association with New Zealand

He says because Cook Islanders, as New Zealand citizens, are free to travel to New Zealand and Australia, they can't be stopped from travelling.

Cooks' PM criticises NZ on climate change

The New Zealand government has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below the level of 2005 by 2030.

The Australian government has a similar target, with plans to cut carbon emissions by at least 26 percent of 2005 levels by 2030.

When asked about New Zealand and Australia's emissions targets, Henry Puna said it's up to New Zealand and Australia to decide what is good for them.

He says the important thing is that they come together regularly to talk about those difficult issues.