The annual parade, usually considered a highlight of Te Maeva Nui, started over an hour later than the advertised time of 1.20pm, leaving a large crowd of people lining the main road waiting in the hot sun. Among them were Creative Centre members who had earlier chosen a prime spot along the supposed route which offered some shade.
There was no explanation as to why the event started so late or why it failed to follow the advertised route along the lagoon side of the main road and even the police who had stationed officers the length of the main road, said they didn’t know. Rather than travelling the length of the main road, the parade turned at the St Joseph’s Road intersection, denying scores of people an opportunity to enjoy what had promised to be an entertaining spectacle.
CINews understands the last of the floats did not set off until 4.45pm.
Angered by the problems, scores of people took to social media to complain at the poor organisation of the parade, while some wrote letters to CINews blaming the ministry for its lack of planning and communication.
On Friday, Culture staff member Janette Brown answered some of the critics who had vented their anger on Facebook, saying the ministry would hold a meeting the following day and would then explain what had gone wrong.
“An informed statement will be forthcoming once we the Ministry have had our morning meeting tomorrow.”
Another staff member said she would pass on CINews’ questions about the parade to “the right people.”
However, by Sunday no explanation had been received. Then on Monday morning, ministry head Anthony Turua sent CINews an email message. It read: “We regret to what has happened with the float diversion and we will strengthen these errors in future. I encourage everyone to please in future join the float to show your support and passion towards our cultural theme of the year.”
CINews then emailed Turua a list of questions, pointing out that the public had a right to know what had gone wrong and why so many people had been forced to endure hours in the hot sun, without seeing anything of the float parade.
The 10 questions asked who was responsible for organising the parade and why it had started so late and had failed to follow the advertised route. The email also pointed out that his reply didn’t deliver the right message and by saying “we will strengthen these errors in future”, he had actually implied that the errors would be worse next time.
However, even this failed to produce any response from Turua, other than to say it was all he could give CINews.
“The statement I send you is what I can give you for now until I have our post meeting with the float teams.”
A Facebook post on the afternoon of the parade declared that whoever was in charge of the Te Maeva Nui parade had messed up “big time,” sparking a large number of similar comments.
Some of the comments that followed featured in CINews on Saturday and Monday, by which time the original post had attracted 64 comments. Others were posted on the Rarotonga Community and Beyond page.
Said one writer: “I feel so bad for all the hard work that was done and nobody got to see it. Very sad.” Others commented that they had left the parade early, while another commentator described the parade as “absolutely appalling.”
“All the time and energy put into the floats and the majority of the audience does not get to see the floats.”