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The Strategic Evaluation of the Cook Islands Programme 2015-21

What we did

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) commissioned Future Partners to undertake a Strategic Evaluation of its development programme (also known as the Four-Year Plan) in the Cook Islands from 2015 to 2021, focusing on 2018-21 and the impact of COVID-19 on the Cook Islands’ economic and social wellbeing. The Evaluation was designed to provide a strong evidence base and deeper understanding of the impact of MFAT’s contribution to Cook Islands’ development priorities over this period.

We used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to answer the Key Evaluation Questions (KEQs) and meet the evaluation objectives. We considered how and to what extent MFAT’s programme has been effective in achieving its proposed goals; what impact  it has had on the Cook Islands’ own development, and its relationship with Aotearoa New Zealand; how the delivery of MFAT’s programme could be improved during the next programme phase; and how the interventions could be more sustainable and strengthened.

How we did it

The Evaluation took place between December 2022 and April 2023 with ten days in-country for fieldwork. We assembled a team with specialists in evaluation methodology, finance, good development practice, gender equity and social inclusion, climate change, and small island development states. Our team members had all worked and lived extensively in the Pacific, and two of the team were from the Cook Islands.

The Future Partners Evaluation team interviewed 60 key stakeholders in the Cook Islands and Aotearoa New Zealand. These included Cook Island Government officials, key informants working in the private sector and civil society, MFAT officials and other New Zealand government agency officials, and consultants working to support the Cook Islands.

Benefit for partners (or the client)

These findings and recommendations will be used to inform the implementation of the next four year programme and ongoing engagement between the governments of New Zealand and the Cook Islands.


Read the report on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's website - Report

A group of eight people standing inside a building
Members of the Future Partners Evaluation team with staff at the New Zealand High Commission in Rarotonga (left to right) Mercie Tongia, Dr Elisabeth Poppelwell, Hilary Gorman, Kiri Stevens, High Commissioner Tui Dewes, Kirsty Burnett, Helena Cook and Ben Schultz. Team member Peter Tierney joined by zoom from Apia.


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