Wednesday, December 30

Muri Eco Warriors

Christmas is over, the New Year is fast approaching. The weather has been pretty good. Fine and sunny enabling lots of people to get down to the beaches and enjoy themselves.
It’s a bit cloudier now but there’s been no rain – good if you’re a holidaymaker, not so good if you’ve got a water tank that needs filling.
This video was taken just before Christmas when the Muri Eco Warriors had their first project.
The Muri Eco Warriors are kids, from toddlers to teens, who live in the Muri area and want to learn about and protect the beaches and surroundings.
Their first project took place at the beach area in front of the Ngatangiia sports field.
Cyclones and storms have washed basalt rock from the retaining wall onto the sand and into the lagoon.
The kids, with a little help from some adults, shifted rocks – small, middle-sized and large – and also learnt about levers, fulcrums and cooperation.
The Warriors programme will run once a month with a different mission each time.
The plan next time is to head along the Avana valley and check out freshwater ecology.

Thursday, December 24

Merry Christmas from Rarotonga

It’s Christmas Eve as I write this, the sun is shining and it’s hot, hot, hot!
The political situation is also pretty warm with the PM sacking the DPM, a gaggle of ministers resigning in protest, the Democratic Party expelling the PM and asking him to resign, the PM refusing… no doubt the usual shady deals are being made behind the scenes and one or more coalitions are likely in the new year.
Meanwhile life goes on. Usually at this time of year the streets are crowded with expat Cook Islanders home for the holidays but there seem to be fewer this year.
I don’t know whether that’s because not so may have been able to afford to fly to Raro or because there’s less money to spend when they get here.
Some things don’t change much though. The end-of-season soccer cup final took place last weekend and the big two – Nikao and Tupapa – faced each other again. Nikao had hoped to do the round/cup double but Tupapa won with a goal in the last few minutes.
The women’s cup final was between Arorangi and Titikaveka. It was nil all at full time but Arorangi won on penalties.
A merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.

Thursday, December 17

Hospital Comforts sing carols for Christmas

Rarotonga’s Hospital Comforts group has been helping the sick and suffering, both in-patient and out-patient, for over forty years.
As well as making hospital visits, the comforters raise money for things like crutches, wheelchairs and even specially adapted vans with lifts so that willing helpers can take the wheelchair-bound out and about.
They’re a lovely group, mainly women, always ready to lend a helping hand with a personal touch.
Carol singing at the hospital is a regular occasion each festive season. Santa and the gang load their sacks with presents, cakes and biscuits and travel round the wards delivering Christmas cheer.
As you can see from the video, Santa had plenty of help from the elf, the cute little fairies and the Girls Brigade singers doing their bit to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Monday, December 14

Oire Nikao drum dance practice

It’s been dry and dusty in Rarotonga for the past couple of months but the drought finally broke last week and we had a couple of heavy downpours.
The grass and trees are looking green again and water tanks are filling up. The government’s introduced a subsidy scheme to encourage home owners to buy water tanks and according to Cook Islands News it’s proving very popular. Te Aponga Uira (the local power company) will now install meters that run backwards so if people have windmills excess power can feed back into the system and cut down on electricity bills. The messages about conservation and global warming are getting through.
This video has nothing to do with power bills but there’s certainly a lot of energy on display.
It takes a lot of time and effort to get ready for the Maeva Nui cultural dance competition.
Piritau Nga was choreographer and team leader and the dancers and drummers put in long hours of practice to perfect their moves.
This is one of the early sessions for the drum dance, the ura pau.

Sunday, December 6

Oire Nikao continues Maeva Nui preparations

Back in August I uploaded a video about Nikao villagers preparing for the annual cultural dance competition, Te Maeva Nui. If you missed it you can check it out here.
There are several parts to the contest, and Oire Nikao won the costume, ura pa’u (drum dance) and pe’e (legend) sections, came second in the choir and kapa rima (action song) sections and shared third place in the ute (celebratory chant) section with Nukuroa.
These great results made them the overall trophy winners. If you want to read more about Te Maeva Nui go to the Cook Islands News website. They now have archived material on the site including the starting parade and the results (plus plenty in between but you’ll have to fossick around for yourselves to find that).
Now that the mini games and my holiday are both over I’ve got time to go back over some of the video I took of the preparations for Maeva Nui. This one shows more of the work involved in making the costumes. Au (beach hibiscus) branches were anchored in the lagoon for two to three weeks. This softens the fibres so that the inner bark peels away from the wood easily. The fibres are hung up to dry, then teased apart before being plaited or made into skirts.
Not only the dancers are involved in the work. From young boys and girls right up to grandmothers and grandfathers, everyone lends a hand and enjoys doing so.
Later the costumes are bleached or dyed and the decorations are made.
It’s a long slow job but the results were quite spectacular as you will see on later videos.
I’ve got footage of early rehearsals and the dress rehearsal but unfortunately not of the event itself. The ministry (of culture) won’t allow any video cameras in the auditorium where the competition takes place.