Saturday, August 31
Ten teams contested this year's cultural dance competition at Te Maeva Nui, but while the other nine sang a ute, Puaikura chose to perform a pe'e (chant or legend).
The pe'e is something of a specialty for Puaikura. The village turns out in full force and the choreography includes some fascinating and unusual moves. And everyone looks as though they are having a great time on stage. It's all a lot of fun.
This pe'e is about the coming of Christianity to the village.
It might be a while before the next video goes onto the blog as I'm about to go on holiday. Yay! Taking a train across America. I love trains but there aren't many on Rarotonga; just one in fact and unfortunately it's no longer working.
Wednesday, August 21
This year's Te Maeva Nui dance competition gave local (Rarotonga-based) teams the chance to shine and they certainly made the most of the opportunity.
With fabulous costumes, exciting choreography and plenty of new faces, it might not have had outer islanders but it had everything else.
One (among many) of my favourite items was the Takitumu ura pau. The ura pau, or drum dance, involves mainly lower body movement, pulsating drum beats and non-stop action. It's always an audience favourite and this one was no exception - you can hear the cheers in the background.
All the items last six or seven minutes so this video is just an excerpt. If you want to see the whole thing don't forget the Ministry of Cultural Development will have DVDs available some time soon.
Saturday, August 17
One of the first items in this year's Te Maeva Nui competition was the Enua Mangaia dance team's kapa rima (action song).
The dancers were mainly Rarotonga-based Mangaians, both young and old, and their kapa rima costumes were among the few this year made from rauti and other leaves.
The youngsters put on an enthusiastic performance, much appreciated by the audience.
Don't forget, DVDs of Te Maeva Nui competitions are available from the Ministry of Cultural Development. This year's set should be available in a month or so.
Wednesday, August 14
The annual Te Maeva Nui celebrations on Rarotonga always begin with a float parade along the main road in Avarua. It's a chance for people to dress up and make a lot of noise.
The weather started off fine and sunny this year which was great for spectators and performers alike.
Later on, as the speeches were getting underway, the rain came down. Didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the paraders though.
Saturday, August 10
This year's Te Maeva Nui festival was another wonderful experience even in its shortened form.
In order to cut down on expenses there was no government subsidised transport to bring outer islands dance teams to Rarotonga; instead the islands were given cash grants so they could have their own celebrations and competitions.
Well, it's always enjoyable to have outer islanders here but many people have pointed out the good things to come out of this.
For a start, we had ten teams of Rarotonga villages and Raro-based outer islanders. This meant that all our dancers, young and old, had the thrill of being involved, not just the stars from a few communities. It was a joy to see so many kids up on stage singing and dancing with heart and soul and clearly having a ball! And remember that hours of practice and costume making goes into each performance.
The same was true for the outer islands. We've read reports and seen photographs in Cook Islands News of the celebrations on Aitutaki, Manihiki and Mauke. No doubt when travellers get back from the northern group we'll hear about the events up there. Some of these islands had a full programme of dances, including the pe'e, sports and parades. On Manihiki tthe villages had a real float parade - decorated boats on the lagoon!
And this year everyone was able to take part instead of sending off the best dancers to Rarotonga.
That's the way to keep the culture alive and growing.