Talented cultural artist Kaena Short, 7, opened Te Mire Ura dance festival with powerful and energetic pe’e and dance routine at the National Auditorium on Thursday night.
Kaena’s performance was a fitting introduction to the artistic talent from the young dancers that followed and were appreciated by about 2000 people who witnessed the colourful event.
The evening had seven dancers each from the junior and intermediate divisions competing for the overall titles and other prizes.
Champion junior girls dancer Te Pa O Te Rangi Tupa felt happy and surprised to claim the category’s Te Mire Ura title.
Tupa, who joined the event for the first time, said “before I went on stage, I told myself that I wouldn’t be scared, but when I started, I got a little frightened. As soon as I finished, I felt okay and amazed.”
“I love dancing because it brings me a calm spiritual harmony for my mind and body.”
Tupa’s action song was a tribute for her late grandmother Mama Tutakiao.
“My song, Tana Hiva – Akarongo is composed and sung by Emile Rima. The lyrics “siki nei au iakoe” means holding you to my heart, “poepoe nei au iakoe” is adorning you mama to my ear, and “sapaipai nei au iakoe” means carrying you with love.”
She was proud to represent the village of Rangiatea, Vaka Takitumu and Apii Nukutere and was supported by the Korero Maori dance group.
Tupa thanked her choreographer Uirangi Bishop as well as Caroline, her sister Maneuneu, Ricky Boaza for her costumes and helpers Shermia and Michelle Tuariki.
In the boy category, brothers William and Henry Ioane, who were first time competitors, stole the show.
William, the youngest sibling, was enthusiastic and energetic on stage and placed second in the junior boys section.
Older brother Henry claimed the intermediate boys champion trophy.
“I felt honoured and humbled to be chosen and would also like to congratulate the other dancers, we are all winners,” Henry said.
“Most of all I’d like to thank my Mama Vainiu, she was the backbone to my winning this event. She coached me with my pe’e, choreography and made my costumes.
“Thank you also to my little cousin Isabella Dun, my Aunty Miriama for my tattoo and Aunt Nicholas for the Vaka prop.”
Their grandparents Vainiu and Thomas Savage were proud of the duos achievements.
“We are so happy and full of pride of them as beginners in the event,” Vainui said.
“There was a lot of hard work and long hours of rehearsels and making costumes for their performances; we also have a lot of supporters who helped out to thank.”
Intermediate girls champion Leigh Emile from Puaikura was delighted to claim the division which proved quite competitive.
She was introduced to cultural dance by the Cook Islands Community in Perth four years ago.
“That’s when my passion for my culture began. I enjoy dancing and embracing my culture,” said Emile, who is a member of the Akirata dance troupe.
Emile would like to thank her choreographers Kirsten Tangapiri and Aloma Moore and those who contributed to her performance: Betty Eisler, Krissy Lewis, Natalia Mamanu, Travel Purua and Poko Tangata.
Heinarii Tauira, who claimed the best costume award for the intermediate girls division, said her participation was a wonderful life changing experience.
“I learnt to make costumes, learnt other techniques in dancing and learnt more about my culture and inheritance. I was inspired by everyone’s performance. They all came together in an explosive celebration of colours and materials, fibre and craft interwoven by delicate fingers of love.
“Everybody did so well and looked very stunning on the night. I want to congratulate everyone for taking on the challenge. Like myself, being a first time performer, I want to encourage others to give it go.”
Champion junior boys dancer Aporo Williams from Vaka Takitumu looked stunned when his name was announced.
A first time entrant, his parents Georgina Keenan-Williams (a former dance champion for many years) and father Sonny are passionate experienced cultural leaders.
“I was brought in a dancing family, I’ve been dancing since the day I could walk,” said Williams.
Musician Kutia Tuteru entertained the audience while points were totaled for the prizegiving awards on the night.
The results are as follows:
Junior Girls: Slow beat – TePa Tupa, Fast beat – Kimberly Uini, Best Costume – Kimberly Uini. 3rd - Kimberly Uini, 2nd – Savannah Nia, 1st - Pa O Te Rangi Tupa.
Junior Boys: Slow Beat – Aporo Williams, Fast Beat – William Ioane, Best Costume – Aporo Williams. Consolation – Nicholas Ioaba; 3rd – Roma Daniel, 2nd - William Ioane, 1st - Aporo Williams.
Intermediate Girls: Slow Beat – Leigh Emile, Fast Beat – Leigh Emile, Best Costume – Henarii Tauira. Consolation – Sophnia Tararo; 3rd place – Henarii Tauira, 2nd - Nicolea Mateariki, 1st - Leigh Emile.
Intermediate Boys: Slow Beat – Henry Ioane, Fast Beat – Henry Ioane, Best Costume – Rio Teika. 3rd place – Moana Rakei, 2nd - Rio Teika, 1st place – Henry Ioane.