By Lisa Williams-Lahari - email@example.com
Australia is to open a mission in Rarotonga in 2019, paving the way for direct talks between the Cook Islands and Canberra on the lives of an estimated 30,000 Cook Islanders living there.
Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna says the news bodes well for improved discussions around immigration and superannuation issues for Cook Islanders.
He says it will also raise Australia's profile in his country.
"Australia now realises that the Pacific is more than just the western Pacific and are now increasing their engagement. For the Cooks there are some real benefits arising out of that."
Australia is also planning on establishing diplomatic missions in Niue and French Polynesia.