Australian High Commission in Rarotonga
Kia Orana and welcome to the official website of the Australian High Commission in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands.
Australia has had diplomatic relations with Cook Islands since 1994, but our shared heritage is much older. Australians and Cook Islanders served side by side in both World Wars and in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands. We have deep ties founded in shared membership of international organisations, a large diaspora in Australia (more than 22,000 Cook Islanders call Australia home) and a shared belief in democracy and the rule of law.
Our High Commissioner is Dr Christopher Watkins. He delivered his letter of introduction to Prime Minister Henry Puna on 17 March 2020, and became Australia's first resident High Commissioner to the Cook Islands.
Dr Watkins is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He has previously served overseas at the Australian Embassy in Iraq and at the Australian High Commission in Nigeria. In Canberra, he has served as senior analyst at the Office of National Assessments and as Acting Director of the Papua New Guinea Political Section. In 2015 he was deployed to Ghana as part of Australia's response to the Ebola crisis. In 2016 he was made an AILA International Fellow of the Washington based Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
Dr Watkins holds a Doctorate in Modern History and a Masters in Historical Research from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom; and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Melbourne. His partner Penelope Witt is a veterinarian and they have one daughter.
The Australian High Commissioner addresses dignitaries at the departure of the Australian-provided Patrol Boat Te Kukupa on its final voyage, February 2022.
Australia's cooperation with the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a key partner for Australia in the region. Our ministers regularly consult each other on issues of shared interest, and our senior officials meet annually to identify new ways to cooperate on shared challenges.
On security, Australia helps the Cook Islands to secure its huge maritime territory through the provision of a Patrol Boat and associated support. We cooperate in the Forum Fisheries Association where Australia provides aerial surveillance, and we offer sustained assistance to the Cook Islands Police Service in the form of equipment and training.
On the economy, we are working together towards closer economic integration as signatories to the PACER Plus treaty. At the Cook Islands' request, Australia has funded an embedded advisor in the Seabed Minerals Authority to help build its capacity to regulate the nascent seabed minerals industry and ensure Cook Islanders benefit from a safe and well-regulated approach to its mineral wealth. During the early days of the COVID economic crisis, the Cook Islands asked if an Australian economist from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade could work with the Ministry of Finance to help inform the Cook Islands Emergency Response Plan. That support has led to valuable insights in both directions as we have worked our way through this difficult period for the regional economy.
The Cook Islands has graduated from Aid eligibility, but Australia's Cook Islands Regional Assistance Initiative (AUD 2 million per year) funds diverse programs, including work towards eradicating dengue fever in Rarotonga, planning for the rejuvenation of the wharf on Penrhyn Island and advancing marine research in the famous Aitutaki lagoon.
On a smaller scale, the Australian High Commission runs a Community Grants Program which funds community groups undertaking grassroots projects. The Creative Centre in Rarotonga (which offers services for Rarotongans with disability), a Manihiki Climate resilience project and a fitness and health centre in Mitiaro are among the recent recipients of these grants.
The crew of Te Kukupa prepare to depart for Australia to take command of Te Kukupa II, February 2022
Need information on visiting Rarotonga? Read the following:
- Travel advice from the Australian Government
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In a crisis, Smartraveller will activate a crisis page on its website. It will make it easier for you or someone you know to contact the Australian Government if you need help. It will supplement the consular emergency hotline.
Visit www.smartraveller.gov.au to subscribe or connect with Smartraveller on Facebook and Twitter.
If you need immediate assistance, you can call the Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 from within Australia.
Has your passport been lost or stolen in Cook Islands?
- Report the loss or theft online
- Call the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232 from within Australia.
- Seek more information on the Australian Passports Office website.
- In an emergency the Australian High Commission in Rarotonga may be able to assist in providing a Provisional Travel Document.
Applying for a passport?
- The Australian High Commission in Rarotonga does not issue or renew passports. Passports can be renewed at our consulate in Auckland. From time to time, we organise a passports team to visit Rarotonga, if you would like to register for a passport interview during that visit, please get in touch at [email protected]
- For general information on applying for a passport or renewing your current or expired passport, visit www.passports.gov.au.
The Australian High Commission in Rarotonga does not provide notarial services.
Australian Passport Offices in Sydney or Melbourne can legalise (Apostille/Authenticate) some Australian documents and can issue Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI). Information on how to request these services via mail can be found in the ‘Documents in Australia’ section on the Smartraveller website https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/consular-services/notarial-services. From time to time, visiting staff may be able to assist with notarial acts, if you would like more information please get in touch at [email protected]
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