Government of the Cook Islands
Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration
The Cook Islands Secretary for Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration’s Secretary Ms Tepaeru Herrmann held discussions with the Director-General of the Pacific Community (SPC), Dr Stuart Minchin, via the Zoom platform yesterday.
The deliberations were an opportunity for the Cook Islands, as the current Chair of the Conference of the Pacific Community, to follow up with the SPC Director-General on recent developments relating to regional priorities and work programmes of SPC. Discussion topics included the organisation’s human resourcing, SPC’s support towards a regional Covid-19 Response Plan, arrangements for a Pacific Health Minister Meeting on a regional approach to vaccines, and consideration of the establishment of a Polynesian Regional Office.
“Despite the cascading impacts of COVID-19 affecting a range of priority areas, we are pleased with the organisation’s ability to pivot its working environment to suit the changing circumstances. Our priority during the remaining time of our role as Chair will be to support SPC in providing the necessary technical guidance and support, as realistically possible, to its Member countries including the Cook Islands”, remarked Ms Herrmann.
Ms Herrmann added that “SPC is currently going through a number of recruitment processes and we recognize progress is being made with recruitment efforts to achieve balance between gender and assumption of senior roles. At the same time, I would encourage skilled Pacific female career women to consider applying for roles within our organization.”
During 2020, sixty percent of positions recruited by SPC were filled by persons from the Pacific and 52% of advertised positions were filled by women. SPC continues to make a concentrated effort to recruit the best people to serve its members and in achieving gender balance at all levels of the organization, as well as promoting the significant achievements of women leaders from across the region.
Across the region, COVID-19 continues to influence progress on economic and social development initiatives. SPC has focused its support to Members preparedness and response to the pandemic while collaborating with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partner agencies within the region to develop a Pacific strategy for mitigation and recovery.
Dr. Minchin highlighted the importance of regional collaboration efforts and stressed SPC’s commitment to its members in helping to navigate the response challenges, “SPC is supporting our members through our participation in the Joint Incident Management Team and its Vaccination pillar. Our Public Health Division is providing advice on potential bubbles, and assisting with equipment, PPE and testing capability. I have also been sharing our regular situational update with the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) heads, as the region begins to implement vaccination strategies.”
In recent months, discussions have been held among Polynesian countries to consider the establishment of a regional SPC office within Polynesia. The office would be similar to those that have already been successfully established in Micronesia, hosted by the Federated States of Micronesia, and Melanesia, hosted by the Government of Vanuatu. A dedicated Polynesian Office would facilitate deeper engagement within the sub-region as well as strengthen development support for initiatives among the Polynesian members of the SPC.
Notwithstanding the restrictions caused by COVID-19, the Cook Islands strongly supports the activities of the SPC and is enthusiastic about the potential prospects on the horizon for SPC and its Members in the years ahead.
Queries regarding this media release can be directed to Dr. Jim Gosselin on 29347 or firstname.lastname@example.org