Monday, August 8
The heart and soul of the Cook Islands constitution celebrations is the cultural dance competition, Te Maeva Nui, held on Rarotonga last week.
This year outer island teams from Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke, Manihiki, Pukapuka, Rakahanga and Penrhyn entered all four culture categories (Ura Pau – drum dance; Kapa Rima – action song; Pe’e – chant; Ute – traditional song) as well as the choir and imene tuki sections. Mitiaro mamas who were here for the trade days took part in the ute and imene tuki sections. Two Rarotonga villages, Puaikura and Avarua, also entered full teams.
Large crowds flocked to the national auditorium each night to watch the exuberant, colourful performances and the enthusiastic audience added to the wonderful atmosphere inside.
The outer islands (actually ‘pa enua’ is the politically correct term we’re supposed to use these days) add a new dimension to the activities – different moves, different sounds, different stories.
Rather than one major prize, each team was judged on its performance in each section with cash awards for A, B and C grades ensuring that no one went away empty handed after the many hours of composing, choreography, costume making and practice that went into these stunning items.
The Dancer of the Year competition showcases wonderful individual skills but for the best Cook Islands dancing in the world you have to see Te Maeva Nui.
The Ministry of Cultural Development (MOCD) will have a DVD of the entire festival ready in about a month so you unfortunate people who weren’t able to be here should get a copy and see what you missed.
(Check the MOCD website here.)