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Cook Islands: Government#

Country nameconventional long form: none
conventional short form: Cook Islands
etymology: named after Captain James COOK, the British explorer who visited the islands in 1773 and 1777
Dependency statusself-governing in free association with New Zealand; Cook Islands is fully responsible for internal affairs; New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs and defense in consultation with the Cook Islands
Government typeself-governing parliamentary democracy (Parliament of the Cook Islands) in free association with New Zealand
CapitalAvarua Avarua
geographic coordinates: 21 12 S, 159 46 W
time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Administrative divisionsnone
Independencenone (became self-governing in free association with New Zealand on 4 August 1965 and has the right at any time to move to full independence by unilateral action)
National holidayConstitution Day, first Monday in August (1965)
Constitution4 August 1965 (Cook Islands Constitution Act 1964); amended many times, last in 2004 (2016)
Legal systemcommon law similar to New Zealand common law
International law organization participationhas not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration (New Zealand normally retains responsibility for external affairs); accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Tom J. MARSTERS (since 9 August 2013); New Zealand High Commissioner Joanna KEMPKERS (since 19 July 2013)
head of government: Prime Minister Henry PUNA (since 30 November 2010)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; UK representative appointed by the monarch; New Zealand high commissioner appointed by the New Zealand Government; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually becomes prime minister
Legislative branchdescription: unicameral Parliament, formerly the Legislative Assembly (24 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - the House of Ariki, a 24-member parliamentary body of traditional leaders appointed by the Queen's representative serves as a consultative body to the Parliament
elections: last held on 9 July 2014 (next to be held by 2018)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CIP 13, Demo 8, One Cook Islands Movement 2, 1 undecided
Judicial branchhighest resident court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of the chief justice and 3 judges of the High Court); High Court (consists of the chief justice and at least 4 judges and organized into civil, criminal, and land divisions); note - appeals beyond the Cook Islands Court of Appeal are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)
judge selection and term of office: High Court chief justice appointed by the Queen's Representative on the advice of the Executive Council tendered by the prime minister; other judges appointed by the Queen's Representative, on the advice of the Executive Council tendered by the chief justice, High Court chief justice, and the minister of justice; chief justice and judges appointed for 3-year renewable terms
subordinate courts: justices of the peace
Political parties and leadersCook Islands Party or CIP (Henry PUNA)
Democratic Party or Demo (William HEATHER)
One Cook Islands Movement (Teina BISHOP)
Political pressure groups and leadersReform Conference (lobby for political system changes)other: various groups lobbying for political change
International organization participationACP, ADB, AOSIS, FAO, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IMO, IMSO, IOC, ITUC (NGOs), OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the USnone (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
Diplomatic representation from the USnone (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
Flag descriptionblue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and a large circle of 15 white five-pointed stars (one for every island) centered in the outer half of the flag
National symbol(s)a circle of 15, five-pointed, white stars on a blue field; national colors: blue, white
National anthemname: "Te Atua Mou E" (To God Almighty)
lyrics/music: Tepaeru Te RITO/Thomas DAVIS

note: adopted 1982; as prime minister, Sir Thomas DAVIS composed the anthem; his wife, a tribal chief, wrote the lyrics