Monday night’s songs, dances and costumes presented the audience with a magical evening of cultural entertainment and history that every Cook Islander can be proud to be part of.
The vibrant items presented by each of the teams focused on the 2016 theme of Te Atamira o te Ui Ariki (Throne of Royalty), with Pukapuka Enua opening the evening with a lively pe’e composed by Peter Ravarua.
Next on stage and resplendent in orange and red pareu was the Araura Enua team who based their traditional ute on Teurukura Ariki. The kapa rima by Enua Manu proved a real crowd-pleaser with their strong stage presence and beautiful natural fibre costumes.
A big team of 32 dancers from Vaka Puaikura presented a powerful three-part ura pau with innovative drum beats. The sight of a lone female dancer performing high on a huge atamira was the perfect finish to the Puaikura drum dance.
The night’s guest artist was a team of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu residents on Rarotonga who combined their efforts to present items from each of the countries.
The young team from Oire Nikao with their pe’e were thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, each member giving their performance energy and passion. With four different parts, the complex ute from Mangaia Enua was composed in honour of the House of Ariki’s 50th anniversary and Numangatini Ariki who accepted the Gospel in 1824.
The much-anticipated Vaka Takitumu kapa rima composed by Mauri Toa focused on the traditional akinanga tapu, (most sacred seat) that is the customary practice of the district rather than the atamira. Similarly the Tupapa/Maraerenga ura pa’u also revolved around the akinanga tapu.
Credit must go to the team designers and the many hands that helped create the outstanding costumes made entirely of natural materials that were seen on Monday night and will be presented every other night this week.
Accolades also to the composers and choreographers for their portrayal of this year’s Atamira o te Ui Ariki theme in words and dance: the dancers, drummers, singers and musicians who bring this to the fore and captivate the audience with each performance.
Then in the background there are the supporters, the runners, the mamas who cook meals to keep the teams fuelled during the exhaustive rehearsals.
It is all this voluntary commitment from so many that helps contribute to making each of our annual Te Maeva Nui truly an indigenous cultural festival where our people come together to celebrate and be proud of who we are: Cook Islanders.