Constitution – a Cook Islands celebration

Tuesday August 06, 2013 Written by Published in Culture

This year’s downsized Constitution celebration on Rarotonga has meant for the first time in a long time – pa enua have been able to enjoy festivities on their own islands and capitalise on the national celebration.

Pa enua that chose to run cultural competitions to celebrate the 48th year of self-governance have revelled in this opportunity which has breathed life back into the villages as they prepared for their various events with feverish enjoyment.

Henua Manihiki came alive last week with their constitution celebrations and this week – Aitutaki enua is absolutely buzzing as they too enjoy the opportunity to celebrate the national event on their own island.

Each year the people of the pa enua work for months preparing costumes and items so a team can travel to Rarotonga to represent our islands.

They fundraised money for travel and living expenses and to purchase things to bring home and all this is done with the knowledge that those left behind will not get to see the events or experience the enjoyment of performing on the big stage.

For those at home there is no show or items as the islands best have left for the celebrations on Rarotonga.

Aitutaki businessman Michael Henry also points out the financial challenges faced by the pa enua during the annual celebrations.

“There is no extra shopping bonus for the business on the island as we have soaked up all extra cash in the Islands economy over the last few months as we fundraised for the trip and then the last few dollars we had we gave as gifts to our children and loved ones as they boarded the planes and boats to head to Rarotonga,” says Henry.

“This year it is very different, the villages are alive as they feverishly prepare for the shows, there is great rivalry between the villages so much that as the last touches are put together it is behind closed village hall doors with phones and cameras banned.”

Henry adds that there have been up to 100 dancers take the stage for the celebrations on Aitutaki, especially in the islands bigger villages like Vaipae (Hollywood) and the whole island have been out to watch the cultural shows.

The island’s celebrations come to an end tonight with an official closing ceremony to include Prime Minister Henry Puna.

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