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Cook Islands

Flag of Cook Islands

Engagement in Cook Islands

Australia’s High Commission in Cook Islands was established on 17 December 2019 and is a significant milestone in our growing relationship with Cook Islands. The High Commission’s establishment and the arrival of our High Commissioner in March 2020 have enhanced co-operation with Cook Islands in tourism, trade, investment and security and our people‑to‑people links.


Cook Islanders have made substantial contributions to Australia with at least 22,000 Cook Islands citizens living in Australia. Cook Island Prime Ministers, business people and government officials have graduated from Australian universities.


Australia sourced and supplied personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing equipment to the Cook Islands. Australia is also working to assist Cook Islands as it diversifies and revitalises its economy to help address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

High Commissioner Dr Christopher Watkins shaking hands with Cook Islands’ Prime Minister Mark Brown.
Then High Commissioner Dr Christopher Watkins meeting Cook Islands’ Prime Minister Mark Brown. Credit: DFAT.

Economic Diversification

Offshore rare-earth minerals in Cook Islands waters promise future income and opportunities for its people. Australia welcomes the efforts of the Cook Islands’ leaders as they establish a transparent model for extracting these resources safely and with care to protect its oceans and fisheries.

PACER Pus has, more than ever, a valuable role to play in supporting economic recovery and strengthening the rules based system that underpins international trade. Once PACER Plus comes into force, Australia will support implementation through the PACER Plus Implementation Package.


Australia continues to cooperate closely with Cook Islands on the Pacific Maritime Security Program, and other regional security initiatives such as the Pacific Fusion Centre and the Australia Pacific Security College. In June 2022 we delivered a new Guardian-Class  Patrol Boat, Te Kukupa II, equipping Cook Islands to protect its fisheries and patrol its extensive Exclusive Economic Zone.

Photo of High Commissioner Dr Christopher Watkins holding a high-vis police vests with Police Commissioner, Ma’ara Tetava Ariki.
Then High Commissioner Dr Christopher Watkins presenting new police vests provided by the Australian Federal Police, to Cook Islands Police Commissioner, Ma’ara Tetava Ariki. Credit: DFAT.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) Graduation

Cook Islands graduated to high-income status on 1 January 2020 and has been ineligible to receive Official Development Assistance (ODA) since that date. Australia has allocated $8 million over four years in non-ODA funding for Cook Islands following its graduation from ODA-eligibility ($2 million per year over four years from 2020-21). This will assist Cook Islands to remain engaged in key regional activities, including the PACER Plus trade agreement, and support its economic resilience.

More about Cook Islands.

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