Category Archives: Labour



In accordance with the Employment Relations Act 2012, the Minister Nicholas, has confirmed a Minimum Wage Review Panel to conduct the 2017 review of the current minimum wage rate in the Cook Islands. Panel members include Sandrina, Ministry of Internal Affairs; Kaipo Ingram, Ministry of Finance & Economic Management; Steve Anderson, Chamber of Commerce (for employers); Tuaine Maunga, Cook Islands Workers Association (for employees); and Vaitoti Tupa, community representative. The task of the Panel is to review the minimum wage rate and make recommendations to the Minister who will then decide on the current rate. Factors such as prevailing economic conditions, income distribution, protection for low income earners, and work incentives, as well as public submissions will be considered when the Panel carries out the review. In 2006 the minimum rate was set at $5.00 an hour. In 2014, following the review, the rate was increased to $6.00 an hour, a 20% increase on the 2006 minimum wage rate. In 2015, the last review led to an increase from $6.00 to $6.25 an hour. The Panel has met for their first meeting on Wednesday 1 February 2017 and will be meeting regularly over the month to analyze available data before finalizing their recommendations.

Under the Employment Relations Act 2012, the Minister of Internal Affairs must review the Minimum Wage annually. In order to assist the review of the minimum wage this year, the Minimum Wage Review Panel has produced an Issues Paper for public consultation. This Paper suggests possible areas of concern and consideration in setting the minimum wage and will be available in this Saturday’s Cook Islands News. It will also be available at the website. As the minimum wage will affect everyone in the Cook Islands, the public are invited to provide feedback and comment.

Public consultation helps Government decide what the minimum wage rate should be. Consultation will include one general public meeting, specific stakeholder meetings, radio and television, and outreach in the Pa Enua.

The general public meeting to discuss the Minimum Wage will be held on Friday 17 February 2017, from 12pm lunch time, at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Conference Room, Tupapa.

Copies of the Issues Paper are available in Maori and English and are being sent to all Island Administration offices in Pa Enua. Those on Rarotonga are welcome to collect the Paper from the Ministry of Internal Affairs or email us on the below address for a copy. 2

Public submissions on the minimum wage can be made at the public meeting, on radio, in writing delivered via email to , faxed to +682 26370 or delivered by hand to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tupapa. The closing date for submission is Monday 20 February 2017 as the Panel is required to submit a final report to the Minister by 1 March 2017.

For more information about the public meeting or for a copy of the issues paper please contact the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Labour & Employment Relations Office on 29370 or email .

FINAL – 2017 MWReview Issues Paper MAORI

FINAL – 2017 MWReview Issues Paper ENGLISH


Issued by: Ministry of Internal Affairs

Contact: Sandrina Thondoo, Director of the Labour and Consumer Division & Elizabeth Hosking, Senior Labour Inspector- Ministry of Internal AffairsEmail:


Press Release –

The Labour and Consumer Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is in the process of creating a contact list of all businesses in Rarotonga and the Outer Islands. Having such a comprehensive and up-to-date contact list will largely facilitate the communication between the Ministry and all Stakeholders on labour matters and information about employee and employer rights and duties by email or otherwise. At this stage, there are two important activities planned to be rolled out as from January 2017: the Labour Inspections and the Employer Liability Insurance Scheme. For the Consumer Division, the newly appointed Senior Consumer Advisor, Mr Papaterai William, will actively engage with Stakeholders in regards to consumer rights and complaints.

All Businesses are therefore invited to contact our office via email, phone or Facebook to provide the necessary contact details. Public notices will be published during the month of January as a friendly reminder. The Labour and Consumer Division appreciates and thanks all its valued Stakeholders for their collaboration.

Press Release : Cook Islands Tripartite Advisory Council Inaugural Meeting


Cook Islands Tripartite Advisory Council Inaugural Meeting

As a recent member state of the ILO, the Cook Islands held the inaugural meeting for the Tripartite Advisory Council on Thursday 15th of December 2016. Supported by cabinet decision CM (16) 312 of 23 August 2016, representatives from the Workers, Employers and Government met to adopt their terms of reference establishing the Council as an advisory organ on all matters related to labour.

Tripartism is a foundational principle and a fundamental value of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and can be defined as “the interaction of government, employers and workers as equal and independent partners to seek solutions” to labour issues.

Other than their important advisory role, the Council will be responsible for appointing technical working groups related to matters such as the Minimum Wage Review. The Council’s aim is to support Government in establishing Decent Work and productive employment as key elements to achieving a fair globalization, reducing poverty and achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development. Their next meeting is scheduled for April 2017.

For any additional queries, kindly contact the Secretariat of the Council, which is the Division of Labour and Consumer at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.




Word count: 198

Expected Date of Release: Friday 23th November 2016


Sandrina Thondoo, Director of Labour:

Public Holiday Entitlements during this Festive Season!

Press Release

Public Holiday Entitlements during this Festive Season!

This year, both Christmas and New Year’s public holidays fall over the weekend and for some industries that work right through the festivities, the question of worker’s entitlements is a concern. Following legal advice, the Labour and Consumer Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs would like to inform you about your rights and obligations under the Employment Relations Act 2012 (ERA) and the Public Holidays Act 1999 (PHA).

Under the PHA Christmas day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Day after New Year’s Day are deemed public holidays and are the minimum public holiday entitlement for all workers required to work on those days. Section 3(2) of the PHA provides that when these public holidays fall on a Saturday or a Sunday, the holiday shall be observed respectively on the following Monday and Tuesday. Section 38(2)(a) to (d) of the ERA enables employee and employer negotiations over how to deal with public holiday entitlements, for example, either paid double time, or single pay and time in lieu or given an extra annual leave day.

If workers are required to work on the public holidays as well as the days to be observed as public holidays, that is Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, workers are entitled as a minimum to be compensated under section 38(2)(a) to (d) of the ERA for working those days. Striving for Decent Work standards across the country, employers are therefore encouraged to adopt a fair and reasonable approach in implementing section 3(2) of the PHA and section 38(2)(a) to (d) of the ERA during this festive season.

The Labour and Consumer Division wishes a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017 to all our valued stakeholders. Any additional queries may be sent by email on or by phone.


Word Count: 299


Sandrina Thondoo, Director of Labour and Consumer Division,

Ministry of Internal Affairs.


12 October 2016



The Government will be trialling a new fast-track permit type for New Zealand passport holders from 1 November 2016 to take advantage of the special entry requirements afforded to NZ passport holders into the Cook Islands as bona fide visitors up to six months in response to calls from the private sector, particularly the tourism and infrastructure sectors, to meet current labour shortages.

“It was important to Government to find a mechanism that can meet the immediate needs of businesses that would not compromise border control requirements such as health and police checks,” stated Minister for Internal Affairs, Hon. Albert Nicholas, “nor result in long-term labour replacement of our local people”.

The new permit, labelled “STePNZ” (Short Term Employment Permit for New Zealanders), features shorter advertising timeframes and onshore submission and processing of health and police checks within a one-month period. Employment contracts will need to be reviewed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs prior to submission of applications to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration. STEPNZ can only be extended once, totalling a maximum time of 12 months in the Cook Islands.

The STEPNZ Policy document and the Standard Operating Procedures are available for public review on the Ministry of Internal Affairs website or by emailing

Written submissions on the proposal can be submitted by no later than 26 October 2016 to or delivered to the Secretary, Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Funding of $72,500 has been approved to support the implementation of STePNZ including development of a new online application process to facilitate the new STePNZ permit system. A manual process will be in place until the online system has been developed.



Kairangi Samuela                                                                  Bredina Drollet

Principal Immigration Director                                           Secretary

Ministry of Foreign Affairs                                                   Ministry of Internal Affairs



Cook Islands Youth Monograph

The Cook Islands Government signed a Biennium Work Plan with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for the two year period in 2014 and 2015 to target issues affecting reproductive health and improving gender health outcomes.

While much of the planned work targeted programmes to assist with improved family planning, sexual and reproductive health services to prevent STIs, and raising awareness about violence against women, there was also a component for increasing the availability, analysis and utilization of data to inform policy decision making on population dynamics.

With support of the Cook Islands Statistics Office and UNFPA, two statistical reports using existing information contained in the Census was approved: these were the Labour Monograph and the Youth Monograph.

Below is a link to the Cook Islands Youth Monograph.

1. UNFPA _ Youth Monograph Report _ Young people of the Cook Islands HRv1

Media Releases – Minimum Wage Review

MEDIA RELEASE – 2015 Minimum Wage Review

FINAL MEDIA RELEASE – Public Consultations Minimum Wage Review, Jan 2015

Minimum Wage – Article by Anthony Turua

2015 Minimum Wage Review Issues Paper MAORI

2015 Minimum Wage Review Issues Paper – ENGLISH

2015 Minimum Wage Review – Labour Force Statistics and Facts

 2015 Minimum Wage Review – Worker Considerations

Pa Enua Minimum Wage Review

Pa Enua Notes on the Minimum Wage Review Questionnaire 2015

Cook Islands Minimum Wage Review 2015 – Employer Survey