Republic of the Philippines

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PHL Ambassador attends the Cook Islands 50th Anniversary of self government in free association with New Zealand

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Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand attended the Cook Islands 50th Anniversary of Self Government in Free Association with New Zealand as the representative of H.E. Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Philippines in Rarotonga on 3-4 August 2015. She also joined The Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand who invited the Ambassadors and High Commissioners based in New Zealand to travel with him on the Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 to Cook Islands. Ambassador Benavidez is accredited to Cook Islands on a non-resident basis.

On 4 August 1965, Cook Islands gained self-governance to manage its resources and people and has established a vital partnership with New Zealand which oversees the country’s foreign affairs and defense. On the celebrations of Cook Islands 50th Constitution Day, President Aquino reiterated to His Excellency Tom John Marsters, The Queen’s Representative his sincerest congratulations and best wishes for the continued success and prosperity of the people of Cook Islands and said that “the Philippines values its good relations with Cook Islands, as one of our close neighbors in the Asia Pacific region, home to over 200 Filipinos.” Ambassador Benavidez joined the Heads of Diplomatic Mission and other guests at a Reception hosted by the New Zealand High Commissioner to Cook Islands H.E. Nick Hurley and Mrs. Christine Hurley in honour of the Official Visit of Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. John Key and delegation at the High Commissioner’s Residence, Ngatipa on 3 August 2015.

The celebratory programme on 4 August 2015 started with the 50th Constitution Day Combined National Thanksgiving Prayer Service conducted by the Religious Advisory Council followed by a State Luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Henry Puna. The Constitution Day Ceremony, graced by the Prime Minister, the Queen’s Representative, Heads of State/Government from the Pacific countries, Officials, Members of Parliament, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and VIP guests and attended by people from the different islands of the country, featured traditional drumming and dances, prayer service, speeches by youth representatives, Statement by Prime Minister John Key on behalf of New Zealand and visiting delegations, rendition of the 50th song, Statement by Prime Minister Henry Puna, cutting of the cake, salute, gift giving for invited guests and closing prayer. A sunset float parade and fireworks capped a meaningful, momentous and memorable celebration.

The members of the Filipino community of Cook Islands put up much applauded cultural performances during the Celebration Concert on 3 August and an impressive float during the parade on 4 August 2015.

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