Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, H.E. Mr. Henry Puna spoke at the plenary of the 38th Session of the General Conference, where he reflected on the relationship between the Cook Islands and UNESCO as a mutually beneficial bond, where his country works to support the organization’s agenda and benefits from its programmes in the region.
Speaking on the importance of cultural heritage, the Prime Minister said, “Our cultural heritage is not buildings and monuments. Our cultural heritage is centuries of calendars for fishing and planting, traditional navigation, using our ocean and environment to signal our weather, drum beats and dance steps. These are the things that have made our country what it is, and are still all use today.”
The Cook Islands has been a staunch supporter of UNESCO. Working closely with the UNESCO Apia Office through the Cook Islands National Commission for UNESCO, a meeting of Pacific National Commissions for UNESCO was held in January 2015. More recently, with the active its participation, a meeting of Pacific National Commissions for UNESCO was held last month to prepare the participation of Pacific countries to the UNESCO General Conference. In 2014, the Cook Islands organized the 10th Pacific Islands Forum of Education Ministers Meeting, in which UNESCO played a key role.
The Prime Minister, who is also Minister of Education, also participated in the Education 2030 High Level meeting where The Education 2030 Framework for Action (FFA) was adopted.
The Cook Islands is a state in free association with New Zealand and celebrates its 50th anniversary of self-governance this year, as UNESCO marks its 70th anniversary. The Cook Islands joined UNESCO in 1989.