Media and freedom: if the Cook Islands can do it…

7 Sep

The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands has said a few things about the need for media and government to have a somewhat better relationship than the one that exists – or rather, barely exists – between their counterparts on St Helena.

The Pacific Media Centre – part of AUT University in New Zealand – reports:

“Our experience in the Cook Islands is marked by long history of media freedom. Twenty-three years ago one of our former leaders, the late Sir Geoffrey Henry, was instrumental in shaping the local media into what it is today,” he said, acknowledging the late Sir Geoffrey’s move to privatise media and broadcast organisations.

“Although this history may well be portrayed as chequered, patchy or uneven, what has remained important to us over the years is that the pillar of the fourth estate continues to be an essential ingredient in the maturity of our country.”

Puna said the Cook Islands had enacted the Official Information Act, which committed a government to addressing the information needs of the community it represented.

“In fact, these responsibilities to uphold such freedoms in the flow of information, I believe, are shared responsibilities. The weight of our freedoms is a burden for us all, elected officials and the media alike. In balancing the need to know, particular consideration must be paid to the way that this commitment and responsibility is managed,” he said.

“Strangely, however, very little is said about developing partnerships between the media and governments. I ask the question: Are our interests so at odds that the divide cannot be bridged? I don’t think so.”


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