2014 Cook Islands general election

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Cook Islands general election, 2014

← 2010 9 July 2014 2018 →

24 seats
13 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 79.5%
  First party Second party Third party
  Henry Puna 2015.jpg
Leader Henry Puna Wilkie Rasmussen Teina Bishop
Leader since September 2006 February 2012 April 2014
Leader's seat Manihiki Penrhyn Arutanga-Reureu-Nikaupara
Last election 16
New party
Seats before 16 8 New party
Seats won 13 8 2
Seat change Decrease3 0 Increase2
Percentage 42.3% 46.1% 9.6%

Prime Minister before election

Henry Puna

Prime Minister after election

Henry Puna

Flag of the Cook Islands.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Cook Islands

A general election was held in the Cook Islands on 9 July 2014.[1] It determined the membership of the 14th Cook Islands Parliament.

The Cook Islands Party retained its majority, winning 13 seats, while the Democratic Party won eight and the new One Cook Islands Movement won two.


The previous elections were held on 17 November 2010. The term of the Parliament was due to expire four years after that date, on 17 November 2014. Elections had to be held no later than three months after that date,[2] with 17 February 2015 being the latest date.

However, on 17 April 2014 the Queen's Representative, Tom Marsters, dissolved Parliament, setting an election date of 9 July.[1] Marsters stated that the Prime Minister, Henry Puna, had informed him that the early election was required in order to have a new government in office prior to the 50th anniversary of the Cook Islands attaining self-government, which will occur in 2015. Masters also said that it would allow the new government to pass a budget in time for the anniversary.[1] Puna blamed minister Teina Bishop for destabilising the government and necessitating the election.[3][4] Bishop resigned as education and tourism minister the day after the election was announced[5] and subsequently left the Cook Islands Party to form a new party.[3][6] The Opposition claimed that the Prime Minister had called the election to avoid a no-confidence vote in Parliament, which Puna denied.[4] Leader of the Opposition Wilkie Rasmussen criticised Puna for calling an election with bills yet to complete their passage in Parliament.[4][7][8]

A list of candidates was publicly notified on 6 May.[9] 52 candidates contested the election, a decrease from 70 in 2010.[10] Six candidates were women, with Alexis Wolfgramm of the Pan Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association blaming the snap election for the lack of more female candidates.[11]

10,394 people were enrolled to vote.[12]

Electoral system

The 24 members of Parliament are elected in single-member constituencies using the first-past-the-post system.[13][14]


The Cook Islands Party campaigned on its record in government,[15] including increasing pensions, other welfare payments and the minimum wage.[3] It also highlighted income tax reductions,[15] while the opposition Democratic Party criticised the government's value-added tax (VAT) increase and promised to reverse it.[3] The Democratic Party also promoted a scheme for agricultural development on the outer islands,[16] while the Cook Islands Party touted the infrastructure projects it had carried out in the outer islands.[15] Bishop's new party, the One Cook Islands Movement, called for the taxation of pensions to be abolished[17] and for subsidies to promote tourism in the outer islands.[18] Both major parties, as well as independent candidates, used social media in an attempt to connect with younger voters.[19] Former MP Iaveta Short criticised the campaign, saying parties were focused on "offering lollies to get votes" rather than providing solutions to the issues faced by the Cook Islands.[20]


e • d Summary of the 9 July 2014 Cook Islands election results
Parties Votes % Seats
Cook Islands Party 3,499 46,3 13
Democratic Party 3,811 49,2 9
One Cook Islands 790 9,6 2
Titikaveka Oire 96 1,2 0
Independents 73 0.9 0
Total counted 8,364 99.23 24
Invalid/blank votes 65 0.77
Total 8,429 100.00 24
Registered voters/turnout 10,394 81.09
Source: Ministry of Finance and Economic Management

Note: one seat is tied, with a recount to be held.[21]

By constituency


Cook Islands general election, 2014: Akaoa
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DP Nooroa O Teariki Baker 185 47.9
CIP Teariki Heather 201 52.1
Turnout 386
CIP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Amuri-Ureia
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Toanui Isamaela 203 57.8
DP Terepai Maoate Jnr 148 42.2
Turnout 351
CIP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Arutanga-Reureu-Nikaupara
Party Candidate Votes % ±
OCI Teina Bishop 204 68.2
DP Teuira Manuela Ka 95 31.8
Turnout 299
OCI gain from CIP Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Avatiu-Ruatonga-Palmerston
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP John Henry 258 46.9
DP Albert Taaviri Kaitara Nicholas 292 53.1
Turnout 550
DP gain from CIP Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Ivirua
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DP Jim Marurai Elected unopposed
DP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Manihiki
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Henry Puna 78 51.3
DP Apii Piho 74 48.7
Turnout 152
CIP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Matavera
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Kiriau Turepu 288 51.2
DP Cassey Eggelton 275 48.8
Turnout 563
CIP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Mauke
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DP Hugh Graham 48 24.9
CIP Tai Tura 82 42.5
OCI Tungane Williams 63 32.6
Turnout 193
CIP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Mitiaro
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DP Tangata Vavia 50 50.0
CIP Tuakeu Tangatapoto 50 50.0
Turnout 100
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Murienua
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Patrick Arioka 221 49.6
DP James Beer 225 50.4
Turnout 446
DP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Ngatangiia
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Atatoa Herman 183 35.7
DP Tamaiva Tuavera 257 50.1
Independent Ngateina Jasmine Mackenzie 73 14.2
Turnout 513
DP gain from CIP Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Nikao-Panama
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DP Ngamau Munokoa 417 64.1
CIP Piritau Nga 234 35.9
Turnout 651
DP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Oneroa
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DP Kareroa Wesley 117 63.6
CIP Poroaiti Arokapiti 67 36.4
Turnout 184
DP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Penrhyn
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DP Wilkie Rasmussen 68 46.6
CIP Willie John 78 53.4
Turnout 146
CIP gain from DP Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Pukapuka-Nassau
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Tekii Lazaro 128 46.9
OCI Tai Ravarua 25 9.2
DP Vai Peua 120 44.0
Turnout 273
CIP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Rakahanga
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DP Taunga Toka 22 36.1
CIP Toka Hagai 39 63.9
Turnout 61
CIP gain from DP Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Ruaau
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DP William William Heather 386 61.1
CIP David Akanoa 246 38.9
Turnout 632
DP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Takuvaine-Tutakimoa
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Mark Brown 313 63.9
DP Tuaputa Petero Dyer 177 36.1
Turnout 490
CIP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Tamarua
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Tokorua Pareina 28 50.1
DP Tetangi Matapo 27 50.1
Turnout 55
CIP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Teenui-Mapumai
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Rose Toki-Brown 71 54.6
DP Norman George 59 45.4
Turnout 130
CIP gain from Independent Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Nandi Glassie 88 54.7
DP Eugene Tatuava 73 45.3
Turnout 161
CIP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Titikaveka
Party Candidate Votes % ±
DP Selina Napa 337 48.1
CIP Teariki Matenga 268 38.2
Titikaveka Oire Teava Iro 96 13.7
Turnout 701
DP hold Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Tupapa-Maraerenga
Party Candidate Votes % ±
OCI George Angene 498 51.0
DP Lee Harmon 282 28.9
CIP Isaia Willie Jnr 197 20.2
Turnout 977
OCI gain from CIP Swing
Cook Islands general election, 2014: Vaipae-Tautu
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CIP Moana Ioane 178 50.9
DP Kete Ioane 172 49.1
Turnout 350
CIP hold Swing

Analysis and reactions

The Cook Islands Party, despite winning fewer votes than the Democratic Party, retained its majority with 13 seats. The Democratic Party won eight seats and the newly formed One Cook Islands Movement two. One seat, Mitiaro, was tied, with a recount to be held there.[21][22]

Preliminary results had given the Democratic Party 11 seats to the Cook Islands Party's 10, with two for the One Cook Islands Movement and one tied. They had also had Prime Minister Henry Puna trailing his Democratic Party opponent by two votes in Manihiki.[23][24] However, the final results gave Puna a four-vote victory, while Democratic Party leader Wilkie Rasmussen, who had led by eight votes in the preliminary results, lost by 10 votes to the Cook Islands Party's Willie John in Penrhyn.[21][24] Tokorua Pareina of the Cook Islands Party also defeated the Democratic Party's Tetangi Matapo by one vote in Tamarua, which had been tied in the preliminary results.[25] Mitiaro, where the Democratic Party's Tangata Vavia had held a six-vote lead in the preliminary tallies, became in a tie in the final results.[21][24]

One Cook Islands Movement leader Teina Bishop was re-elected in Arutanga-Reureu-Nikaupara, as was the party's other MP, George Angene, in Tupapa-Maraerenga.[24]

In a major upset, Cook Islands Party candidate Rose Toki-Brown ousted veteran Democratic Party MP Norman George by 12 votes in Teenui-Mapumai. However, George claimed that his defeat was result of widespread bribery and said he would challenge it in court. Toki-Brown denied any wrongdoing. George stated that his party colleague Eugene Tatuava was also planning to challenge the result in Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua, where he lost to Cook Islands Party MP Nandi Glassie by 15 votes.[24][26]

Bishop questioned the validity of postal votes from New Zealand that arrived two days after election day, saying that this delay meant that they appeared to breach the Electoral Act. Chief Electoral Officer Taggy Tangimetua dismissed the issue as a "technicality", stating that she had received legal advice that she could count the votes and adding that the Electoral Act needed to be reformed to address impractical provisions.[27]

Preliminary figures indicated that turnout had declined to 73.3%, but this increased to 79% in the final results.[28] Democratic Party MP Selina Napa, who was re-elected in Titikaveka, claimed that the figures were skewed by outdated voter rolls that still listed people who had died or moved away. She was supported by Tangimetua, who noted that the rolls were supposed to be updated by the Ministry of Justice.[29]

The Democratic Party questioned the accuracy of the count, with its president, Sean Willis, saying:[30]

There are a lot of question marks hanging around about why a lot of Democratic votes by declaration were disallowed which were crucial in some outer island seats. There were postal votes that were accepted after the polling date. Basically we've lost the battle but we haven't lost the war. There are definitely going to be petitions.

The final results included an extra 1236 votes compared to the preliminary results. Earlier comments by Tangimetua had indicated that, in addition to the votes included in the preliminary count, the final count would include about 400 advance votes, between 100 and 300 postal votes, and 100 votes by declaration. The appearance of several hundred votes additional to those mentioned by the Chief Electoral Officer in the final count led to public concern and questions about where they had come from.[28][31] An anonymous party official also alleged that a scrutineer had reported seeing ballot boxes being opened before the count started.[28]


In September the High Court upheld an electoral petition submitted by the Democratic Party regarding the result in Tamarua, where Cook Islands Party candidate Tokorua Pareina had won by a single result. As a result of the court ruling, Democratic Party candidate Tetangi Matapo was declared the winner by three votes. This resulted in the Cook Islands Party losing its one-seat majority.[32]

On 17 December 2014, the Court of Appeal voided the election of Cook Islands Party candidate (and Education Minister) Moana Ioane in Vaipae-Tautu, and ordered a by-election for 17 February. This ruling reduced the Puna government to the status of a minority government.[33]


  1. ^ a b c "Cooks parliament dissolved for July election". Radio New Zealand International. 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  2. ^ Emmanuel Samoglou (2014-01-14). "Candidates set for Murienua re-run". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-01-28.
  3. ^ a b c d "Cook Islanders head to the polls for snap election". The New Zealand Herald. 2014-07-07. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  4. ^ a b c "Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna deflects claims of party disunity". ABC Radio Australia. 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  5. ^ "Cooks minister Bishop resigns". Radio New Zealand International. 2014-04-18. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  6. ^ "New group emerges to contest Cooks election". Radio New Zealand International. 2014-05-05. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  7. ^ Emmanuel Samoglou (2014-04-17). "Election call was 'selfish'". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-07-08.
  8. ^ "Cook Islands calls early election amid opposition claims government faces no confidence". ABC Radio Australia. 2014-04-22. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  9. ^ "Candidates Duly Nominated For Each Constituency". Cook Islands Gazette. 2014-05-06. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  10. ^ Emmanuel Samoglou (2014-05-07). "Fewer candidates run in 2014 election". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  11. ^ "Cook Islands' snap election left women candidates behind: advocacy group". ABC Radio Australia. 2014-05-15. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  12. ^ Emmanuel Samoglou (2014-07-01). "Election: Campaigns enter home stretch". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  13. ^ "Members of the Parliament of the Cook Islands". Parliament of the Cook Islands. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  14. ^ "Cook Islands". Pacific Women in Politics. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  15. ^ a b c "Hopes 4 years of stability leads to 2nd term in Cook Islands". Radio New Zealand International. 2014-07-04. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  16. ^ "Cash food crops for Cooks outer islands". Radio New Zealand International. 2014-07-04. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  17. ^ "MP wants tax-free pensions for Cooks". Radio New Zealand International. 2014-07-07. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  18. ^ "Cooks candidates contend elections". Radio New Zealand International. 2014-07-08. Retrieved 2014-07-08.
  19. ^ "Social media a factor in Cook Islands poll". Radio New Zealand International. 2014-06-23. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  20. ^ Emmanuel Samoglou (2014-07-15). "Election campaigns 'lacked substance'". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  21. ^ a b c d Emmanuel Samoglou (2014-07-18). "Election: Puna in, Rasmussen out". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  22. ^ Cook Islands Party wins absolute majority | Radio New Zealand News
  23. ^ Emmanuel Samoglou (2014-07-10). "One Cook Islands as kingmaker?". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  24. ^ a b c d e "Final Results 2014". Ministry of Finance and Economic Management. 2014-07-18. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  25. ^ Briar Douglas (2014-07-17). "Election: CIP inches ahead of Demos". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  26. ^ Emmanuel Samoglou and Mark Ebrey (2014-07-14). "Election: Bitter battle likely in Atiu". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  27. ^ Emmanuel Samoglou (2014-07-15). "Validity of postal votes questioned". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  28. ^ a b c Emmanuel Samoglou (2014-07-19). "Mysterious votes in final count". Cook Islands. Retrieved 2014-07-22.
  29. ^ Emmanuel Samoglou (2014-07-12). "Cook Island Elections See Only 73% Voter Turnout". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  30. ^ "Cooks election outcome challenged". Radio New Zealand International. 2014-07-21. Retrieved 2014-07-22.
  31. ^ "Extra votes sees return of Cook Islands Party government". ABC Radio Australia. 2014-07-21. Retrieved 2014-07-22.
  32. ^ Ruling Cook Islands Party under threat after court decision Radio NZ International, 29 September 2014
  33. ^ "Cook Islands by-election revives opposition hopes", Radio New Zealand, 24 December 2014
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