Cook Islanders celebrate Constitution Day

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

It is Cook Islands Language Week in Aotearoa and today the nation is celebrating its 55th Constitution Day of self-governance.

Due to the current pandemic, there was not the usual week-long Te Maeva Nui Festival culture and dance event and parade due.

However, the Raising of the Flag ceremony and formalities took place at the National Auditorium where Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown addressed the nation. 

“I thought it was beautiful, everybody dressed up to come out to this occasion. The shows that were put on by the dance teams were spectacular,” said Brown. “They were historical in that these were shows that were first celebrated at the first celebration of our country 55 years ago.”

Last week, the Cooks Cabinet mandated the formation of a Cook Islands Border Easement Taskforce to rapidly assess the implementation of two-way quarantine-free travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand in a world-first for other countries to follow. 

“I’m very happy Auckland International Airport has already come forward with a proposal to totally separate those passengers who come through Auckland Airport from countries that have Covid-19 and have total separation from those people who are coming from Covid-free countries like ours.”

“So it’s these measures that are being put in place. This will be the template for what future air travel is going to be like for countries that are similar to ours.”

Brown expects an announcement on when travel can begin within weeks.

“It’s very positive, on both sides the officials are working towards the same goal in achieving quarantine free travel between our countries." 

A bigger Te Maeva Nui celebration is planned for next year to mark the bicentenary of Christianity coming to the Cook Islands, but that will depend on how well the nation recovers once the borders re-open.