Ministry of Culture’s Robert Ioaba explained the rules for the National Dancer of the Year competition have been in place since 2010, and state that all contestants must have resided permanently in the Cook Islands at least three months before the closing date of entry, which was April 17.
Mateariki has been living abroad since June last year and has returned to the island especially for the competition.
Through the week, members of Mateariki’s family, including his mother Nane Mateariki, have raised concerns about what they see is an unfair ruling.
However, Ioaba says that Nane Mateariki was part of the meeting in 2010 that agreed to the rules and regulations of the event.
Ioaba went on to explain that, when reviewing the registrations of dancers for this year’s competition, he did not accept Mateariki’s registration as he did not fill in the registration form but rather his mother.
The competition rule states that all contestants must complete the registration process and sign the documents, however, Ioaba says he believes Mateariki did not fill and sign his form which was completed by his mother.
Further competition rules state that there is no automatic right of entry based on past participation and title held.
Ioaba explains that Teariki was not banned from the competition but disqualified due to not meeting the competition eligibility criteria.
He went on to say that had he had the chance to sit and discuss the issue with Mateariki, the champion dancer would have been invited him to showcase his talents by opening up the competition with a performance and even made the talented dancer a judge.
However, this did not happen as there wasn’t an open and civil line of communication between the ministry and Mateariki family.
“He’s always welcome to join as long as he is residing in the Cook Islands not overseas,” says Ioaba.