Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands?
What rules cover Parliament?
What is Hansard and how can I look at Hansard?
What Committees does Parliament have?
What Acts have passed through Parliament?
The Cook Islands Parliament is descended from the Cook Islands Legislative Council established in October 1946. Established to provide for political representation and better local government in the islands, the Legislative Council was a subordinate legislature. It was empowered to legislate for the “peace, order, and good government” of the islands, but could not pass laws repugnant to the laws of New Zealand, appropriate revenue, impose import or export duties, or impose criminal penalties in excess of one year’s imprisonment or a £100 fine. The council consisted of 20 members, ten “official” members appointed by the Governor-General of New Zealand and ten “unofficial” members drawn from the Island Councils, presided over by the New Zealand Resident Commissioner. Later regulations provided for the unofficial members to be split between the various islands, 3 from Rarotonga, 6 from the outer islands and 1 representing the islands’ European population. The island representatives were elected annually, while the European representative was elected to a three-year term.
The Legislative Council was reorganised in 1957 as the Legislative Assembly with 22 elected members and 4 appointed officials.Fifteen of the members were elected directly by secret ballot, and seven were elected by the Island Councils. In 1962, the Assembly was given full control of its own budget. In that year it also debated the country’s political future and chose self-government in free association with New Zealand. On independence in 1965 it gained full legislative power. It was renamed the Parliament of the Cook Islands in 1981.
Both the size and term of Parliament have fluctuated since independence. In 1965, it consisted of 22 members elected for a period of 3 years. The size was increased to 24 members in 1981, and again to 25 in 1991. It was reduced again to 24 members in 2003 when the overseas constituency created under the 1980–81 Constitution Amendment was abolished. The original three-year term was increased to four years in 1969, and five years in 1981. A referendum to reduce it to four years failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority in 1999, but passed in 2004.