News & Events

Official Information Act Workshop for HOM's

Head of ministries and government chief executives had their turn to learn more about the Cook Islands’ Official Information Act. More than 20 gathered at Crown Beach Resort yesterday to discuss and provide feedback on how the act has affected them since it was passed by parliament five years ago.

The workshop is part of a series of sessions jointly hosted by the offices of New Zealand and Cook Island Ombudsman. Cook Islands News has also assisted through its UNESCO JFIT project which aims to raise awareness of the legislation.

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New Ombudsman

A new ombudsman will be announced when Parliament sits on November 8. The country has been without an ombudsman for nearly a year now, after former ombudsman Janet Maki resigned in early December for personal reasons. Since then assistant ombudsman Jeannine Daniel has been managing the Nikao office, although there is no acting ombudsman.

Read more: New Ombudsman

Toward a culture of freedom of information

Official Information ActThere is a big difference between freedom of information and a culture of freedom of information.

That sounds trite and nitpicky, I know, but the difference in terminology has fairly major implications. In the Cook Islands there is freedom of information, but the culture of freedom of information has yet to develop.

The Cook Islands has been hailed as a pioneer in the Pacific for its passage of the Official Information Act (OIA) five years ago. But since the law’s inception, Cook Islands News journalists have been complaining that it lacks efficacy. I know. I’m one of them.

Managing editor John Woods went so far as to call the act “stillborn”.

“Our OIA itself is handicapped by lack of follow through,” Woods wrote in Pacific Journalism Review (2010).

“Our politicians gloated about being the first in the Pacific to adopt FOI (Freedom of Information) legislation but since then no resources have been applied to education, and our Ombudsman struggles with her role in overseeing the Act. In a way the Act was stillborn, but it will survive.”

Read more: Toward a culture of freedom of information

Review of OIA

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