Māori relieved Cook Islands is Covid-19 free

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

The Cook Islands is officially Covid-19 free, as announced by Prime Minister Henry Puna following the negative results of more than 900 tests.

Māori are welcoming the news and the easing of restrictions to follow. 

"A sense of relief and that yes that it's officially been announced that we’re Covid-19 free," Sharlene Atai of Ngāpuhi says. 

"But also I guess relieved in a way because some of the restrictions have been lifted which enables us to get back to some sort of normality here on the island."

Amber Raymond and whānau.  Photo/Supplied

Amber Raymond is very thankful that she and her family returned only five months ago.

"The best decision we’ve made in the past few years, we’ve been meaning to come back for a long time. We were on the Gold Coast, loved it there, it was hard to leave but very grateful that we’re here right now," Raymond says, who is Tapuika and Te Au o Tonga Vaka.

While the country will remain in Code Yellow, some restrictions will be lifted such as domestic travel to and from the Pa Enua and schools resuming next Monday (local time).

This weekend church services will be allowed to resume, and with more than 70 churches throughout the Cook Islands, this is good news for local worshippers.

"This nation is on Christian foundations and principles. We know that the church isn’t defined by a building, which was shown during this season, but getting back and seeing our friends and family and that yeah we’re just excited," Atai says.

Non-contact sports can resume and cafes and restaurants may reopen, however social distancing and hygiene measures are to be observed.