- Category: Home
- Published on 06 August 2012
Welcome to the Office of the Ombudsman's website. The Office of the Ombudsman is an impartial and independent office established under the Ombudsman's Act 1984 and is headed by the Ombudsman who is an officer of and responsible to Parliament by virtue of Section 3(1) of the Act.
History of the Office
So what is an Ombudsman?
An Ombudsman is an independent official who represents the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints reported by individual citizens. The modern meaning arose from its use in Sweden, with the Parliamentary Ombudsman instituted in 1809 to look after citizens’ interests in their dealings with government. The word Ombudsman is not gender specific and derives from the Old Norse word umbudsman, meaning representative.
Ombudsmen in the Cook Islands
The first Cook Islands Ombudsman was appointed in 1985 under the Ombudsman Act 1984. The following persons were appointed Ombudsman since the establishment of the office.
- Mr. Tangata Simiona 1985 - 1992
- Mr. Henry Brown 1992 - 1999
- Mr. Andrew Turua 2000 - 2006
- Ms Janet Maki 2006 -
Extensions to the Ombudsman's jurisdiction
When the office was first established by way of the Ombudsman Act 1984, the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction was limited to investigating complaints about central government departments and organisations under Part 1 and 2 in the Schedule of that Act. In 2007, the Ombudsman (New Schedule) Order came into force updating the Schedule.
In November 2007, Cabinet by way of CM(07)694 appointed the current Ombudsman to “be in charge of the Cook Islands Human Rights Office”. This has been interpreted to mean that Cabinet has issued a directive for the Ombudsman to set up a Human Rights division within the Ombudsman Office.
In February 2008, the Official Information Act was passed and came into force on 11 February 2009. Under this Act, the Ombudsman was given the function of investigating and reviewing complaints about decisions made by Ministers of the Crown and government departments and agencies (including local government) on requests for official information.
In June 2008, the Cook Islands Disability Act came into force. Under this Act, again the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction was extended to investigate complaints against any person (whether public or private sector), of discrimination against the disabled.
Changes in office location
In January 2007, the current Ombudsman relocated the Office from the Ngati-Uritaua Building in Avatiu to a new government office in downtown Avarua.
In September 2008, the office of the Ombudsman was completely destroyed by fire as a result of a fire in an adjoining government office and relocated to the 1st Floor of Ingram House, Avatiu, Rarotonga.
The current office is now located across the airport close to Cafe Jireh.