“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people…E teitei te enua I te Tuatua-tika: tei te kino ra I akakinoia’I te tangata nei”
This was the theme and scripture chosen for the national combined thanksgiving service held at the National Auditorium/Are Karioi Nui on July 15 as part of our 50th anniversary programme.
Thanks to our Are Ariki, Religious Advisory Council and government and most especially the Minister for Culture, Deputy Prime Minister Teariki Heather, for his trust and confidence in our Religious Advisory Council of the Cook Islands to prepare a programme for the night.
A sudden switch of venue was made at the last minute due to problems with lighting, sound, seating, stage and distance. These problems prompted the DPM to change the venue from Telecom Sports Stadium in Tereora back to our National Auditorium.
Notices were then put out on television, radio and in the newspaper to inform the public of the change of venue. Our humble apologies go to those who did not see the notices and turned up at Tereora.
About 500 people turned up to support the programme, and most uplifting was the presence of our outer islands tere parties, who dropped their evening practices to join with us.
Araura Enua wasted no time at erupting into singing few songs of praise to our God before the start of the programme. Thanks to the leaders and members of the Araura Enua A Team and thanks for the presence of our Kaumaiti Nui, Travel Tou President of the House of Ariki and Mrs Tou, the president of the Koutu Nui Mama Maria Henderson (Turi Mataiapo), Papa Paulo Paulo (Pakitonga Ariki) of Pukapuka and all other Arikis, Ui Mataiapos and Ui Rangatiras on Rarotonga and from the outer islands.
Ministers Nandi Glassie and Kiriau Turepu and their wives helped fill the empty VIP seats. We were then informed by the secretary of Culture, Sonny Williams, that the service was to be broadcast live to the outer islands. It was a very moving and most entertaining service and those who tuned in and listened will have heard everything that was spoken and presented.
The service opened with our traditional Imene Tuki ‘Ina oki te meitaki e te mataora, kia noo katoa te au taeake ma te tau tikai’ led by the audience and the opening prayer by the Reverend Papa Aratangi of the Nikao Church.
Speakers representing the Religious Advisory Council each gave some powerful and most inspiring five-minute messages based upon the theme.
Papa Jake Numanga of the LDS Church warmed the slightly chilly night with his rendition of ‘How Great Thou Art’ both in English and Maori. The biggest surprise of the evening, however, was a youth team from Rev Mata Makara’s Clayton CICC Church in Melbourne who challenged the audience to stand and join them, leading with a lively praise song, ‘Every Praise to Our God, Every Word of Worship in One Accord. This prompted the audience into hand-clapping, dancing and exuberant praise.
Reverend Vaka Ngaro topped it off with his message and a very beautiful duet by Tuaine Unuia and partner. Elder John Mateara from the LDS delivered a very beautiful message, followed by Pastor Matapo of the AOG, Elder Teiaa Potoru, an intercessory prayer by Elder Tai Joseph both of the Apostolic Church, Pastor Hosea Hosea of the SDA and Father Freddie Kaina of the Catholic Church. The highlight item presentation of the night was by the Catholic Church, while young beautiful girls in their all white costumes performed an action song. Twelve groups of characters came forward, each depicting or portraying signs of blessings such as the Word of God, Family, Culture, Education, Ocean, Agriculture, Peace and Tranquility, Tourism, Health, Infrastructure & Telecommunication, Environment and the 50th anniversary celebrations.
It was great how they put it all together.
The overall blessing of course was the professional touch in music and songs from our most gifted and talented guest artists – Epheraima Taokia, Curley George and Andre Tapena.
The DPM in his closing address thanked all both on Rarotonga and those from the outer islands for supporting the 50th anniversary programme, and wished all the best throughout this season of festivities.
He also acknowledged the Religious Advisory Council for all the great works that they are doing and presented the chairman, Bishop Tutai Pere on behalf of RAC with a donation of $5,000. This was a first time-ever gift from government. Lastly but not least, our biggest thank you and meitaki maata to the Secretary for Culture, Sonny Williams for the efforts of his hard-working team who at a last minute notice were able to get the auditorium ready. Thanks also to all the most beautiful ushers on duty throughout the night.
We look forward to another of our 50th anniversary national thanksgiving services on Constitution Day, August 4. See you all there.
Kia Orana e Kia Manuia rava!
Bishop Tutai Pere,