Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown, seen here in October with Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, has said he wants the Cook Islands to join the United Nations. Photo/Facebook
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says Niue and Cook Islands should be able to pursue UN membership without losing New Zealand citizenship.
The Green Party would back any moves by the Cook Islands and Niue to become full members of the United Nations.
Speaking on Pacific Mornings with Aggie, Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says these countries should be able to pursue that path without the threat of losing New Zealand citizenship.
“There is no circumstance where it is right for Niue and Cook Islands to lose any of those freedoms and entitlements at all. I don’t think there’s any way we can even entertain that thought.
“Our position is putting full support behind Niue and Cook Islands making those decisions themselves.”
Davidson's comments come just weeks after the United States recognised both countries - which are realm territories of New Zealand - as sovereign states.
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown has also renewed efforts to become a member of the United Nations, something previously ruled out by Prime Minister John Key in 2015.
Niue looked at pursuing member-status with the United Nations in 2016, but that stopped after a warning it would raise questions about their citizenship, and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown shelved the idea in 2019, after a number of attempts from himself and his predecessor Henry Puna.
The recognition by Biden in late September changed that, creating easier access for trade and funding negotiations.
But Massey University senior lecturer in Defence and Security Studies Anna Powles warns that New Zealand will have to engage carefully with the Cook Islands and Niue over their aspirations for UN membership.
“This is really where the rubber hits the road when it’s challenged by these issues. This is something that will really test the New Zealand-Pacific policy, particularly under Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta.”
She says the Pacific resilience approach is based on principles grounded in the Treaty of Waitangi, and any moves from New Zealand should reflect that.
“Will New Zealand display those values and principles in its support for Cook Islands and Niue to join the United Nations? These are understandable ambitions for both and surely a reflection of those very values and principles that New Zealand purports to have with respect to the Pacific.
“If we truly are ‘in and of the Pacific’ which is the political rhetoric that we hear from this government, then let’s see that expressed in ways which are actually the way family would engage with each other.”
Dr Anna Powles from Massey University speaks to Agnes Tupou on Pacific Mornings: