Marking the 50th anniversary of the House of Ariki, the cultural performances were the result of weeks and weeks of non-stop rehearsals, late night costume-making sessions, and mountains of prayers.
Eight groups poured out their affection and gratitude to their respective Arikis and their atamira in four different items featured throughout the week.
This year’s theme of Te Atamira o Te Ui Ariki has brought our traditions of old back to life for our young generation to learn and continue, and for our older people to remember and cherish.
To fit the theme, a variety of stunning costumes made of rauti and rito were decorated with a myriad of found objects from land and sea; from the unexpected seeds of the taro plant and the white pipi of our sandy beaches, to our treasured pearls of Manihiki's deep lagoon.
Mangaia's pe'e energised the crowd with their powerful presence and use of tokere (small wooden drums) by the entire group, while Tupapa's upbeat ute had their young members taking to the stage with their own dances of joy in their sleek black and white uniforms.
Graceful movements from the female dancers, and a standout band, gave majesty to Oire Nikao's kapa rima composed by Teata Moeara. It featured a striking change in tempo and the audience was treated to the beautiful sound of the ukulele in the performance, which honoured the Ariki of Vaka Te Au o Tonga.
A real crowd-pleaser was Takitumu's innovative ura pa'u, choreographed by Sonny and Georgina Williams. Telling the heart-warming story of the creation of an atamira fit for an Ariki, it was enhanced by some inventive props. The crowd was entranced by the Takitumu performers who were visions in white and red.
The team from French Polynesia ensured they weren't left out of the celebrations as their dancers and drummers provided the crowd with an enthralling and masterful performance during intermission.
Rauti was fashioned into gorgeous fitted costumes for the members of the Atiu team as they presented an unforgettable five-part pe'e. The incredible amount of passion and pride from the young members made for a moving tribute to their Ariki; who radiated elegance and poise as she sat on an atamira atop a pa'ata or carrying platform, raised high above the children of Enuamanu by the island's warriors.
Vaka Puaikura were a delight as they sang of the legacy that an Ariki leaves with their atamira, even long after they have departed. The lively and highly enjoyable ute left the audience with smiles on their faces as the members of Puaikura cheerfully enticed their Ariki on stage to sit upon a magnificently detailed atamira.
The familiar tune of, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", was heard during Pukapuka's beautiful and creative kapa rima, in which the group used words of the Pukapukan language.
In true Aitutaki fashion, not one beat was missed by the skilled dancers and drummers during their show-stopping ura pa'u. Choreographed by national dance champion Uirangi Bishop, the ura pa’u gave an opportunity for each performer to showcase their talents as they honoured the island's four chiefs, and those who have passed.
- Kimberly Samuels