By Ruci Farrell - email@example.com
A Cook Islands conservationist is concerned depopulation is rapidly turning the outer islands into ghost towns.
Latest figures show there are 61,839 Cook Islanders residing in New Zealand compared to 17,459 who remain in the Cooks.
Liam Kokaua is a project officer with the Te Ipukarea Society and says they're trying to retain people back home.
"The problem is a lot of us travel and we get caught up with the lifestyle and don't come back. What's driving it is often better wages in New Zealand and Australia, the lifestyle, the shopping malls."
"There are a lot of projects going on in the outer islands to improve the roads, airports and it's actually keeping people employed... and it has the potential to possibly bring some people back."
Liam Kokaua. Photo/ Supplied.
Kokaua is heading to Hawaii to attend the Pacific Youth Leaders Summit where these issues will be raised.