Sunday, October 31

Cook Islands Gospel Day on Rarotonga

This is a pretty busy time of year on Rarotonga.
Cook Islands Gospel Day takes place on 26 October, celebrating the arrival of Christianity on Aitutali in 1821. Actually a visitor to Raro commented that it should be called Slash and Burn Day – the number (and noise) of chainsaws and weedeaters in operation from early morning is huge.
Then we have Turama, All Saints Day, on 1 November, when the Catholic community spruce up the graves of loved ones that are then blessed by the bishop of Rarotonga.
On November 5 our international sporting rugby sevens tournament – Sevens in Heaven – gets going. This year it is a three-day event because of the increased number of teams, 25 all told, 16 men’s and 9 women’s.
Then later in November the Vaka Eiva outrigger canoe festival takes place and that is getting bigger year by year. There could also be canoe carving, and international food festival and a special trade day at the same time.
And finally at the beginning of December there’s the Tiare festival, celebrating all the flowers that should be blooming round about then (as long as we don’t have too much in the way of winds). Oh, yes, the cyclone season also starts in November but we’re hoping it will be a mild year; various met offices are forecasting that our part of the world should miss out on the worst of the action. Hope they’re right.
This video comes from Gospel Day.
Arorangi hosted the event, which got under way somewhat later than advertised but nothing really unusual about that. This year’s theme was about taking the gospel to the heathens. The video shows parts of the host’s nuku (religious play) which covered a wedding in Mangaia and the early days of Takamoa Theological College when pastors and their wives were trained to become missionaries in places like Papua New Guinea. As is always the case most of the village took part and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. There used to be a (flexible) time limit of twenty minutes per nuku but this one took more like an hour and what with that and the late start I only had time for Arorangi and part of Matavera’s drama which involved cannibalism in New Caledonia.
All good fun.
Bring on Turama.

Sunday, October 24

Korero Maori dancing kids

The Cook Islands constitution celebrations (Te Maeva Nui) commemorate the country attaining internal self government. We’re not actually independent, because New Zealand looks after such things as defence. I can only remember one instance of talk about ‘real independence’ and that was a smoke screen raised by politicians trying to draw attention away from a major economic meltdown caused by themselves.
Most Cook Islanders are very happy with the way things are. I think they regard New Zealand rather like an elder brother. I suspect New Zealand thinks of us like a spoilt child.
Anyway, that’s why we have a Constitution Day rather than an Independence Day but we all enjoy the public holiday and the dancing regardless of the name. It takes our minds off the current financial crisis, once again caused by politicians.
We’ve got an election coming up in mid-November, a chance to clean out the house.
Our parliamentary system is nominally the Westminster system in terms of elections but with our own Pacific flavour. Government members think it’s their job to take as many overseas trips as possible and rack up the per diems. The opposition’s job is to sit on their backsides and wait until the next election when they might be able to take over the trips. They don’t actually oppose anything (except political reform). There’s no ideological difference between the parties and nor does there need to be since the candidate with the biggest extended family is the one who’ll be elected.
This year we have 70 candidates standing for our 24 seats and two new political parties have been formed just for the election. They probably won’t get anywhere, they very rarely do, but what’s more interesting is the 16 independents. Some of these are disgruntled sitting MPs who have been dumped by their parties but others are interesting people with solid reputations. I hope lots of them get elected then maybe we’ll get some movement on reform.
Meanwhile, here’s a video of Te Maeva Nui. The population may be dwindling but culture is alive and well. Many local dance groups performed at the celebrations as guest artists and several of them had junior dancers ranging in age from toddler to primary school age.
These are the little ones from Korero Maori dance group.
(Don't forget, DVDs of the entire Te Maeva Nui festival are available from the Ministry of Cultural Development.)

Thursday, October 21

50 things to do on Rarotonga

I’ve been a bit slow to get the next video completed and online but I’ve got a good excuse. I think it’s good, anyway.
I’ve been finishing off a free e-book called ‘50 Things to Do on Rarotonga’. Click on the picture on the right to get a copy of the pdf. It's about 870kB.
If you're planning to visit Rarotonga sometime soon you need this e-book to get you up to speed so you don't waste a minute of your precious holiday time.
It’s actually a 20-page booklet but e-booklet or even e-brochure just doesn’t have the same ring to it so I’m sticking to e-book. Sounds classier.
It’s based on a publication in Hawaii called ‘101 Things To Do in Oahu’. Well, Oahu’s much more than twice as big as Raro so fifty things isn’t too bad to be going on with. The ‘things’ range from relaxing to rousing and where appropriate there are web addresses so you can get more info about the activities that interest you.
There’s already quite a lot of printed material for tourists to the Cook Islands although none are organised like this one. When you get here make sure you pick up the Cook Islands Sun and the Jason’s travel guide and also one of the free maps that both companies put out.
Since this is an e-book there aren’t any printing costs hence no need to chase around for advertising. It also means that updates and additions will be relatively easy to do so if anyone spots any errors, or knows of something that ought to be added to the fifty things just send an email (
And now it’s back to the video editing. Should have a new one up in a few days.

Sunday, October 10

Umukai at Takitumu

Takitumu primary school’s Maori culture week ended up with a big umukai for the children, teachers and all the parents who made the week a success. (See also CI culture wows Takitumu kids.)
The mamas had mostly helped with showing the kids how to use kikau and play the old-style games.
The papas were in charge of the umu making sure it was ready by 11am.
They put on a fabulous spread although I’m not sure that chocolate cake qualifies as Maori culture!

Sunday, October 3

Rarotonga’s week of running

Here are some video highlights of Rarotonga’s week of running, one of the Cook Islands’ popular international sporting occasions.
This video includes footage from all five events.
It started with a fun run on Thursday evening although many of the runners didn’t arrive until the early hours of Friday morning because of an eight hour delay in Auckland (I was told that Air NZ had to bring in a replacement plane from Australia).
The big one, the Round Rarotonga Road Race (for runners and walkers), began at 5.30am on Saturday with times ranging from just over 2 hours to just over 6.
Monday’s Hash House Birthday Bash was another fun affair – the after-run party was the main attraction; Tuesday’s round the rock relay attracted a lot of school teams this year as well as the regular runners; and nearly 50 people took part in the final race, the nutters coast-to-coast.
Incidentally, it’s called the nutters run because it used to be sponsored by a peanut company. The name stuck even though the sponsor didn’t. It’s definitely appropriate for people who travel across the middle of the island on a muddy, tree-root-covered track as fast as they can just for the hell of it!

Saturday, October 2

Nutters coast to coast run

The final event in Rarotonga’s week of running is the Nutters coast-to-coast run.
It’s not for the faint-hearted.
The route starts at Vaimaanga on the south side of the island and heads up and over the cross-island track and down the Avatiu valley to Avatiu harbour on the northern coast.
We had a bit of rain over the previous couple of days so the going was slippery in places but nevertheless just under fifty runners and walkers joined in (the walkers started an hour or so earlier to make sure they finished in daylight).
Greg Gustafson, winner of the RRRR, was also the first nutter home in just under 55 minutes but 8-year-old Liam Teura also made it across and 16-year-old Jacob Pynenburg (who is in the video) finished in eighth spot.
Cook Islands News covered all the week’s races and in fact was a sponsor of the round the rock relay.
Check their online stories here:
Hash 1; Hash 2; Fun Run 1; Fun Run 2; Round Raro 1; Round Raro 2.