Christchurch East MP Poto Williams who hails from the Cook Islands, will be returning this week as part of the Cook’s celebrations on becoming self-governing 50 years ago.
Her family background is connected to the northern Cooks, the islands of Manihiki, Rakahanga, Penryhn and Palmerston. She is the niece of pioneer black pearl farmer Tekake William.
Poto’s Cook Island name is Munokoapoto Williams which also connects her to an ancestral grandmother, who was one of the many wives of Palmerton Atoll’s famous pioneer William Marsters.
The MP is currently working on a doctoral thesis on Pacific Women Leadership.
“The 50th anniversary of cutting loose from New Zealand will see important talks with the Premier of the Cooks, Henry Puna.
“A key issue for New Zealand and the Cooks is an amendment to the Social Assistance Portability legislation which would have allowed people to live in New Zealand and collect the pension without having to travel back after the age of 50.
"Despite representations to the Select Committee, from the Prime Minister of the Cooks and the Premier of Nuie, this amendment supported by Labour was not passed.
“I am looking forward to once again returning to the Cooks for such an important celebration of the island’s independence,” says Poto Williams.