Sunday, March 15
Rarotonga’s traditionally had two float parades each year; the Constitution parade at the end of July or beginning of August, starting the celebrations marking the Cook Islands’ version of independence day, now called Te Maeva Nui; and the Tiare (flower) parade in late November or early December.
In the 1980s and 90s the Constitution parade was a grand affair with up to thirty floats representing businesses, government departments, schools, clubs and of course the outer islanders who were here for the cultural competition. There were often a couple of brass bands. The Tiare parade didn’t have the outer island groups but it still made a pretty impressive show. Some of the floats were a mass of flowers and individuals would often dress up and take part. The Miss Tiare (junior beauty) pageant was a later addition and the contestants joined in the parade with a float each. Parades used to start at Avatiu harbour and head along the main road to Avarua harbour where the judging took place. Spectators packed the street and there was a real party atmosphere.
Well, times have changed.
The parades now start at Avarua harbour and head towards Avatiu harbour ending at Punanga Nui market and sadly both are shadows of their former selves.
Large numbers of people headed overseas after the economic meltdown in the mid 1990s, and some of the competitive spirit seems to have gone with them.
The big businesses don’t take part any more, the bands have fallen silent and if it weren’t for the outer island groups the Constitution parade would be a pretty dismal affair.
The video shows the 2008 Constitution parade and the Tiare parade in 2000. By 2000 the really awesome floats had disappeared but at least there were a few businesses and a lot of work went into Telecom’s Miss Tiare chariot. Compare this with the 2008 Miss Tiare parade. It’s now dwindled to a handful of cars or trucks just for the contestants.