Eighty-four-year old Teura Tuakanangaro Snow says these traditions began before she was born.
Back then, the village got together and food preparations for rangokere were cooked in one communal umu, then shared with the other village, says Snow. But these days, residents of each home in the village prepare their own baskets of food.
Snow’s granddaughter, Eileen Story, loves being part of the island celebrations - especially seeing everyone happy, singing and celebrating the festive season as one.
“The teretere in Mauke is about sharing food and spending Christmas and New Year’s Day celebrating together – Akatokamanava,” says Story.
“It makes me so proud to be a Maukean.”
There are two parts of the celebration. The first is a rangokere, held before Christmas and New Year’s Day.
This year Kimiangatau village prepared food and delivered the baskets of goodies to the households in the other district, Oiretumu.
Christmas Day is celebrated with the second event, the teretere, which Kimiangatau hosted.
Tables laden with food were set up in each home for their guests from Oiretumu.
Joyful singing and dancing take place before settling down to eat at each house and the routine continues until the guests have passed through the whole village.
On December 31 Oiretumu arranged the rangokere and organised the New Year’s Day festivities for Kimiangatau. Next year the villages will swap roles.
Story has lived on the island for the past two years, moving straight from the hustle, bustle and bright lights of Sydney, to the peace and serenity of an island with a population of just 360.
She had originally planned to move to Aitutaki, her father Richard Story’s home island, with her two children Sinamoana (9) and Ambrose (7). However, an opportunity presented itself in Mauke and she gladly accepted.
Before moving to the island her children couldn’t understand or speak Maori, she says.
“I really wanted my kids to learn our language and culture.
“Sinamoana can now understand and speak a little, but Ambrose (7) speaks Maori easily with the kids and my mum with no problem at all. It makes me happy knowing I was able to give my children this experience.”
Story says making the choice to live on Mauke, (her mother Kapuere Tuakanangaro’s home island) was easy, “because it is smaller and less developed. We get to live a simple life, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my Aunty Frances and the family.”
“We have a saying in Mauke: Akatokamanava; te ngai akangaroianga o te pukuatu e te vaerua (where our heart and soul rests).”