“I live and breathe dance and song.”
Her grandmother, the late Esetera Utua Pukerua, had taught her how to dance.
“She had very strict guidelines, you had to keep your shoulders still, feet close together and slightly bend your knees.”
Her late mother Araipu Tangatatutai Pukerua who was also known as ‘Wonder Woman’, was also a big cultural influencer for her; “she was a spectacular performer who would husk a coconut with her teeth – the only female artist at the time who could accomplish this act on stage.”
Pukerua appreciates her cultural experiences and wants to share her knowledge with others.
She teaches drama at Tereora college and leads the schools’ cultural events; in 2018 the pupils attended the Polyfest event in New Zealand, “a great experience for our students.”
She expressed that, “to encourage our children to dance today, we as parents must show and instil in them pride of our heritage and pave the way for from young age.
“We have great dance teams on the island, our children should get involved, learn more about their culture and show appreciation for it as well.”
Pukerua also sings with local bands and has represented the country overseas.
In the late 90’s she travelled to Taiwan with Tepoave Araitia and to New Caledonia with Peka Takai Benioni and Georgina Keenan, in 2016 she was in Guam for the Festival of Arts as a member of the Cook Islands National Arts Theatre.
She is excited about the show and is out to have a lot of fun.
“When you’re my age and my size, oh well, just join the Golden Oldies and enjoy the night with the rest of the dancers, and it’s great fun back-stage.”
Pukerua is one of 16 Rauti Para dancers that will perform tonight along with six expatriate entrants, the show starts at 8pm at Rehab night club.