“The Prime Minister’s paternalism of the Cook Islands has caused economic and emotional harm to our Pacific neighbours that will take years to fix,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

ACT was calling for a travel bubble with the Cooks in July last year. Here we are almost a year later and a date is only just about to be announced – likely still weeks away.

“New Zealand has an important relationship with the Cook Islands. They rely on us for tourism and RSE work. We rely on them to help fill jobs that New Zealanders won’t do.

“The Cook Islands economy has desperately suffered from a lack of tourists, while here in New Zealand we’ve watched fruit rot on the ground.

“The Cooks are ready for us but Jacinda Ardern unilaterally stopped them from opening their border, all the while lecturing them about COVID-19 testing standards.

“After her Government’s comedy of errors, she does not have the right to lecture anyone on testing.

“ACT welcomes the Government opening up to the Cook Islands and finally treating our neighbours like adults, it’s just a shame it took so long and has taken such a big toll.”