But not before a three-year-old boy melted hearts with his part in the Aitutaki Junior Drumming Champions’ guest performance.
The whole junior team invigorated the crowd with their reverberating beats, but it was the little body hiding behind a massive drum that had everyone awed.
The melting hearts didn’t stop there however, with Cook Islands opera singer Ridge Ponini giving a stunning second guest performance.
Ponini, introduced as ‘the next Pavarotti’, weaved magic into the room with his angelic rendition of La Donna, Nella Fantasia and Selvea Amiche.
With hearts and seats now fully warmed, it was time for the dance groups to send a thrill through the audience, starting with Atiu’s Reo Tupuna which told of the history behind their name, Atiu Enua.
Also to perform were Rakahanga with their Kapa Rima, Mangaia with their Ute, Mauke with their Ura Pau, Aitutaki also with their Reo Tupuna, Nikao with their Kapa Rima, Tongareva’s Ute and Mitiaro’s Ura Pau.
The fervent, powerful energy coming off the stage was palpable and the level of synchrony made the teams fierce in their routine.
Impressive is an understatement with the obvious level of effort these teams have put in to deliver such synchronisation, skill and passion on stage.
However, what stood out the most was the array of creative, intricate and colourful costumes, mostly made from natural local fibres.
Rakahanga illuminated the stage with their glow-in-the-dark costumes, which sent gasps through the crowd.
While some have detested the incorporation of foreign dance elements to each island’s own unique routine, everyone seems to agree that these are some of the best Te Maeva Nui performances ever seen.
Look out for all the action at the National Auditorium in Cook Islands News throughout this week.
Thanks to Lawrence Bailey and the Ministry of Cultural Development for providing the images.