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Cook Islands Government Profile 2006

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Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Cook Islands
former: Harvey Islands

Dependency status

self-governing in free association with New Zealand; Cook Islands is fully responsible for internal affairs; New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs and defense, in consultation with the Cook Islands

Government type

self-governing parliamentary democracy


name: Avarua
geographic coordinates: 21 12 S, 159 46 W
time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions



none (became self-governing in free association with New Zealand on 4 August 1965 and has the right at any time to move to full independence by unilateral action)

National holiday

Constitution Day, first Monday in August (1965)


4 August 1965

Legal system

based on New Zealand law and English common law


NA years of age; universal adult

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Frederick GOODWIN (since 9 February 2001); New Zealand High Commissioner John BRYAN (since 6 September 2005), representative of New Zealand
head of government: Prime Minister Jim MARURAI (since 14 December 2004); Deputy Prime Minister Terepai MAOATE (since 9 August 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister; collectively responsible to Parliament
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the UK representative is appointed by the monarch; the New Zealand high commissioner is appointed by the New Zealand Government; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually becomes prime minister

Legislative branch

bicameral Parliament consisting of a lower house or Legislative Assembly with 25 seats (24 seats representing districts of the Cook Islands and one seat representing Cook Islanders living overseas; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and an upper house or House of Ariki made up of traditional leaders
elections: last held 26 September 2006 (next to be held by 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - Demo 51.9%, CIP 45.5%, independent 2.7%; seats by party - Demo 15, CIP 7, independent 1; note - one seat tied, resolution pending by-election
note: the House of Ariki advises on traditional matters and maintains considerable influence, but has no legislative powers

Judicial branch

High Court

Political parties and leaders

Cook Islands Party or CIP [Henry PUNA]; Democratic Party or Demo [Dr. Terepai MAOATE]

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)

Diplomatic representation from the US

none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)

Flag description

blue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and a large circle of 15 white five-pointed stars (one for every island) centered in the outer half of the flag

Source: CIA World Factbook
Unless otherwise noted, information in this page is accurate as of May 15, 2007

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