Cook Islands elderly plan to move before travel restrictions kick in

Tu Nekeare.
Tu Nekeare. Photo credit: Supplied to RNZ


A family in Rarotonga has got their 81-year-old mother on a flight to the outer Cook Islands tomorrow just before a pandemic clampdown is enforced.

From this weekend, travel to the outer islands will only be allowed after 14 days' supervised isolation in Rarotonga.

Tu Nekeare will fly to Mitiaro Island tomorrow [Sat NZT] to live for four to six months with her son, the principal of the local primary school.

Her daughter Louise Ake Utanga said other families were also flying elderly people to relative safety on the outer islands after making sure they had enough medication for their stay.

Louise Ake Utanga.
Louise Ake Utanga. Photo credit: Supplied to RNZ

"At the moment she's quite calm," Utanga said of her mother, who normally lives in Rarotonga with her and her husband. They are now busy volunteering on Covid-19 support activities night and day.

"She'll be happier to be away from here.

"My brother will be there to pamper [her]."

However, they still did not have a flight to Mitiaro for her older sister who has health problems.

"I've registered with the government as well, but she couldn't get a seat. I'm waiting for them to call me to say, 'ok, she's onboard'."

The government had paid the airfare for her mother, plus was providing some funding for medicines and the like.

"So far the hospital said 'yes, there's enough medication to accommodate not only on Rarotonga but also the outer islands'."

Utanga was helping to make other families aware of the outer islands option.

"It's not to force them. If they do not want to go, that's fine."


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