The free association arrangement between New Zealand and the Cook Islands is a pivotal force behind the movement of Cook Islanders between the two countries. Part of the Cooks’ way of life is understanding and leveraging the different opportunities that exist across the Cook Islands, New Zealand and further afield. This two-part paper, written by Evelyn Marsters in her capacity as a consultant on international development issues, introduces the free association agreement that has existed between the Cook Islands and New Zealand since 1964, and provides background to the historical and contemporary political relationships between the two nations. It also discusses the different concepts of citizenship and independence, and how these relate to the Cook Islands’ transnational population.
This paper began as a panel discussion on sovereignty movements in the Pacific Islands at the Jahrestagung des Pazifik-Netzwerks, and raises many important questions about “where to from here for the Cook Islands?” A full academic version can be found here.