The final stages of a massive solar power project aimed at making the Cook Islands more energy independent have almost been completed, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said on Friday.
McCully is to lead a New Zealand Parliament delegation to the Cook Islands next week to meet with Cook Islands’ Prime Minister Henry Puna and mark the final stages of Cook Islands solar project, built at a cost of 20.5 million NZ dollars (15.24 million U.S. dollars).
The delegation would travel to the islands of Penrhyn and Manihiki to formally open the New Zealand-funded renewable energy projects, hold talks with local leaders, and take part in the annual joint ministerial forum, McCully said in a statement.
“This year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Cook Islands self-government and the special relationship between New Zealand and the Cooks,” McCully said.
New Zealand formally administered the Cook Islands in 1900 and administered them as a colony until 1965.
The delegation would hold talks with Puna on the anniversary, regional issues and New Zealand development assistance to the Cook Islands.
The solar energy project is one of more than 50 major energy developments aimed at moving the Pacific nation closer towards a goal of 50-percent renewable electricity following the 2013 Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland.
New Zealand is funding renewable energy projects in the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu.