Some 20 decorated floats rolled through Avarua – each with their own unique design and message.
The parade began with a strong showing of discipline by the various uniformed organisations on the island who saluted dignitaries as they paraded past Avarua harbour.
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For the cultural teams taking part in this week’s nightly performances at the National Auditorium – their show during the parade was a taste of their performances to come on stage.
Atiu Enua got the parade rolling with impromptu dancing on the main road and were followed by the visiting Australian lawn bowls group here for the annual Te Maeva Nui bowls tournament.
The Ministry of Justice float followed the theme of this year’s Te Maeva Nui of ‘the costumes of our communities and tribe’ where staff from the ministry wore various outfits depicting lawyers and various other justice department staff.
The Creative Centre adult learning school based their float on the Cook Islands greeting of aka’eianga and turou chants.
Warriors dressed in traditional kiriau (wild hibiscus fibres) lead the way for the Mangaia float while the cleverly designed Environment Services float was a dedication to the tree of life – the coconut tree and the story of Ina and the Tuna which tells the story of the creation of the coconut tree.
Environment officers even shared freshly grated coconut to the dignitaries and float judges – for extra kudos points.
Fishing and tivaivai quilting were the themes of the small Aitutaki float although they promised a strong showing on stage this week.
Local dentist George Hosking was in full voice as he drummed home the healthy living message while department staff showcased the various doctors and nurses uniforms worn over the years in keeping with this year’s celebration theme.
The conch shells heralded the arrival of the Mauke float before a strong showing from the New Zealand High Commission’s office led by High Commissioner Joanna Kempkers who, along with her team, rocked out in traditional Kiwi black singlets and gumboots while dancing to hit Kiwi single ‘Slice of Heaven’ by Dave Dobbyn.
Oire Nikao sure knew how to draw the crowd’s attention with a pig on a spit the centre of their float, with a number of spectators seen following the truck to join the feast.
The Mitiaro float was led by the island’s tamariki acting out as the island’s iconic itiki eels – a theme that’s sure to run through the island’s nightly shows.
The youthful dancers also pulled out House of Ariki president Tou Ariki, of Mitiaro, for a dance on the roadside in a show of Nukuroa pride.
Vaka Takitumu were in full swing as young men and women danced ahead of their float carrying warriors, women and their chief played by the infamous Captain Moko who bragged of his seven wives and large family – no doubt a teaser for the village’s upcoming performances.
The final float of the day was by the Infrastructure Cook Islands who took the opportunity to promote the importance of the current Te Mato Vai water upgrade project.
Their first truck depicted the old days of broken pipes being mended using strips of old bicycle tyres, mama washing their clothes in the stream and youngsters having cold outdoor showers.
In their second float the department showed some of the state of the art piping equipment being used the water upgrade project and modern forms of washing clothes and, of course, warm showers.
A number of the Chinese contractors also featured in the float.
It was a long day for those that took part in the float parade but, in true Cook Islands spirit, when the time came to show off – spirits were high as teams danced, sang and entertained the large crowds of locals and visitors that lined the street of Avarua to watch the parade.
Nightly culture shows start tonight at the National Auditorium starting at 7pm.