Overseas dancers ready to go

Tuesday May 14, 2019 Written by Published in Culture
Brisbane dancers George Ellis-Kaisara (left) and Brigid Mateariki, Cecelia Samuela-Touariki, president of Akatokamanava in Queensland, and supporter Arerangi Taoro. 19050905 Brisbane dancers George Ellis-Kaisara (left) and Brigid Mateariki, Cecelia Samuela-Touariki, president of Akatokamanava in Queensland, and supporter Arerangi Taoro. 19050905

Cook Islands overseas performers from New Zealand and Australia arrived on the island last week to participate in the Te Mire Penu held last night, and the International Dancer of the Year (Te Mire ‘Ura Nui) competition that begins tomorrow evening at the National Auditorium.


Following are profiles of the overseas performers.

Brisbane, Australia

Brigid Mateariki is representing the island of Atiu, at 21 years of age she is excited and nervous to participate in the International competition for the first time.

She decided to take part in the competition to gain the experience of competing on Rarotonga.

Mateariki is the daughter of Tangata and Tairi Mateariki and is member of the Drums of the Pacific Dance team in Brisbane - since 2014.

George Ellis-Kaisara is also participating in the event for the first time.

Representing the island of Rakahanga, he grew up dancing from a very young age.

Looking forward to the experience, he says: “I want to give it a go. I’ve been watching footage of the previous competitions so I’m feeling a bit nervous, but I’m also feeling pretty good.”

He has been a member of the Drums of the Pacific dance troupe, since 2015. his dance tutors are Sammy and Maiti Samson.


Experienced Sydney-based International dance champions - brothers Alex and Raven Nicholls, have continually joined the event for many years.

Although he felt not entirely prepared last week, Raven the current defending champion, is excited to yet again be part of the cultural show.

A confident skilled dance competitor, Alex now 31 years of age is ready and geared up for his performance.

Why does he continue to enter the competition? “I have the passion and drive for our culture, besides, for me I believe the standard of the cultural performances has dropped; there needs to be more influence of our culture here and motivation, the youth need to be more engaged in culture.”

Alex began dancing from a toddler’s age, he started competing in cultural dance competitions from 2003.

Both brothers were born in Rarotonga and raised in Aitutaki. In 2001 they moved with their parents Tumutoa and Arerangi (Taoro) Nicholls, to reside in Sydney.

Jasmine Samuel-Mata, 26 years old, has indulged in Cook Islands culture from a very young age.

Formerly a committed sports player who did not have much of an interest in culture, she entered the cultural dancing scene 10 years ago.

“Although I understand our Cook Islands Maori language, I don’t speak it well,” she says.

“Joining this event is a means for me to get more in touch with my roots. I also hope to inspire others who are in similar position as I am.”

Why is she partaking in this event? “I love everything about dancing, I’m not fully prepared but I’m eager to get it done and looking forward to it.

“I love to express my emotions and embrace our culture.”

She is a member of the Manea Pacifica dance group in Sydney. The team perform at corporate events and private functions.


Moeau Henry-Critchley at 22 years of age, has been a dancer since she can remember.

Over the years she has been heavily involved in our Cook Island’s culture notably through dance.

She has taken in many cultural event’s including the Te Maeva Nui, Te Mire Kapa and is a previous contestant in this competition.

Henry-Critchley aspires to inspire others like herself to take to the stage and celebrate our culture; her dance routines are choreographed by Tatryanna Utanga.

Tuteru Samson is a young, passionate cultural dancer who has been involved in the arts for many years along with his family who are all dedicated to our culture.

From a young age Tuteru has managed to build an impressive cultural portfolio as a dancer, choreographer, singer/songwriter and mentor.

He lives and breathes his culture and hopes others will follow along and continue to keep our culture alive.

Chris Bishop grew up in a family who have and continue to be leaders on the island of Aitutaki; he is representing Tokoroa.

“Over the years my experience of exploring, learning and sharing our Cook Islands culture has enabled me to share our ‘culture’ here in the Cook Islands, NZ, Australia, USA and Asia.”

Bishop has competed in various national competitions in the Cook Islands and NZ.

Cook Islands Cultural Achievements: 2018 - Male Tutor for Manurewa High School at ASB Polyfest, 2017 - Cook Islands National Dancer of the Year Male Champion, 2015 - Cook Islands National Dancer of the Year Male Champion, 2013-2014 -toured Sydney, Canberra, Sydney and Newcastle with Tropical Island Hula Entertainers, 2011 - represented and tutored Tokoroa High School at the WBOP Pasifika by Nature placing 2nd, 2010 - Male tutor for Tokoroa High School at WBOP Pasifika by Nature placing 1st.

The Ministry of Cultural Development’s International Dancer of the Year competition starts tomorrow at 7pm.   

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