The biggest birthday party in the Cook Islands kicked off in true Cook Islands style yesterday with a grand opening ceremony at the National Auditorium. Thousands gathered outside the auditorium for the opening service, the arrival of local dignitaries and the blessing of the new constitution rock.
A group of VIP guests made a noble entrance to the ceremony, including Prime Minister Henry Puna and his wife Akaiti, Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters and his wife Tuaine, Minister of Health Nandi Glassie, Deputy Prime Minister Teariki Heather, Minister of Agriculture Kiriau Turepu, Minister of Internal Affairs Albert Henry, Police Commissioner Maara Tetava, Miss Cook Islands Teuira Napa and more.
The group then stood outside the doors to the auditorium to greet and welcome the mass of people going through.
Outer islands visitors banded together and put on an impressive show of island pride with their own t-shirts, signs and songs for their entrance into the auditorium. It was a humbling and empowering moment to witness the mamas and papas dancing and singing, children smiling and laughing, and everyone in between raising their heads high to represent their island, and their nation.
Once all had entered, everyone stood for the raising of the Cook Islands Flag to the national anthem. The ceremony was the first official Te Maeva Nui 2015 event and precedes the highly-anticipated float parade this afternoon.
See Saturday’s edition of CI News for more coverage of Te Maeva Nui 2015.