A ONE News investigation shows more than 700 Cook Islanders a year are coming to New Zealand for hospital treatment and those patients in New Zealand are demanding changes to their health system in order to save lives.
The Cook Islanders say they are fighting back because they are sick of a dysfunctional health system that has misdiagnosed and botched operations.
One of those suffering due to that dysfunction is Takeu Samuel's nephew.
"He had a crash on a bike and one of the doctors wanted to cut the leg off and the mum said no &. take my kid to New Zealand & now he playing rugby again," says Samuel.
Boye Nicholas has also suffered. He was told there was nothing wrong with him when he in fact had a cancerous tumour.
"The Cook Islands government has a big responsibility to sort out its health system," says Nicholas.
The government is finally making changes - albeit slowly.
The Cook Islands Health Ministry commissioned an independent report last year which recommended a raft of changes.
"We need to upgrade the training we may eventually need to bring better qualified people," says Sir Terepai Maoate, the Cook Islands Health Minister. The government has also employed two top health professionals.
New Zealand is playing its part too.
As part of an army exercise, soldiers including civilian personnel, have carried out 78 successful operations in Rarotonga - which means those patients will not end up in New Zealand hospitals.
There has also been first aid courses and dentistry work carried out.
More than 250 teachers and students have been treated but the most important message has been teaching the patients to stop tooth decay from happening in the first place.
"There is no fluoridation on the island and there is quite a high sugar content particularly with the drinks they are taking so that in combination makes a very high decay rate," says NZ dentist Warwick Duncan.
But it is the decay of critical healthcare that is the concern.
"It's about the victims of Rarotonga Hospital and its next generation," says Nicholas.
While the Cooks government has promised to increase its health budget, the victims say action speaks louder than words.