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Team CI attend church and kava ceremony

Monday September 02, 2013 Written by Published in Other Sports

Team Cook Islands at the Wallis and Futuna Pacific Mini Games took part in an uplifting church service and traditional Wallis kava ceremony on their first full day on the island of Wallis.

The 16 member national sports team joined over 500 other mini games athletes and officials at the Catholic mass held in the St Josephs Cathedral on the water front of Wallis island capital Mata Utu.

Another 600 plus athletes and officials along with the local Catholic community stood outside the large cathedral for the morning mass.

The mass was conducted in both French and the native Wallisian language similar to Tongan.

The team of local athletes then mingled with their friends from regional teams before taking part in a traditional Wallisian kava ceremony.

Wallisan high chiefs or aliki took their place at the head of the ceremony grounds with local men seated at the centre of the grounds and local women behind them.

On both sides of the grounds – dignitaries were seated under thatched roof shelters and where there was space – the 800 plus athletes and officials were asked to be seated and remove any headwear including the Cook Islands head ei worn by the team as dictated by Wallisian traditions.

Also at the centre of the grounds were over 60 whole pigs (ready for the umu) displayed on top of kits of arrowroots and topped with colourfully woven mats.

Each was a gift to each of the visiting regional teams and accompanying dignitaries.

The Cooks pig was transported to the village that will host the team next Sunday to feed the visitors and locals in the village.

Before the kava ceremony began – Wallisian women rose from behind their men carrying bags of ei and gifts of sisi (colourful wild hibiscus skirts similar to the local titi) presented to each regional dignitary including Cook Islands associate minister of sport John Henry.

The local women tied the sisi around each of the 40 plus dignitaries at the ceremony and adorned them with their unique eis.

The Wallisian men then took centre stage where three large kava bowls were presented and a group of three men sat around each bowl. The making of the kava was a slow and deliberate task as the head kava makers performed practiced actions in unison as part of the hour long kava ceremony ritual.

A coconut shell of the liquid was first presented to the Wallisian high chief before dignitaries including sports ministers, national Olympic committee members, national sports body presidents as well as local elders were presented a shell of kava - process that took at least an hour.

Traditional Wallisian dances and singing followed before a feast for all was shared at the ground that included chop soy, whole roast pork, taro and curries.

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