Celebrating differences

Friday August 07, 2015 Written by Published in Culture
A graceful Samoan dance had the crowd entranced. A graceful Samoan dance had the crowd entranced.

A number of the different cultures represented in the Cook Islands put on some great performances on Te Maeva Nui International Night on Monday.

Twelve groups took to the stage to celebrate the  Cook Islands 50th anniversary of self-governance  and they unveiled an astounding series of traditional dances, customary songs and musical and artistic performances from countries including New Zealand, Kiribati, Fiji, Australia, Samoa, Philippines, Tahiti, Tonga, and China. 

First off was the Canterbury Ballet Team from Christchurch, New Zealand, which showcased different aspects of ballet in six segments - three group items, two solos and one classical duo.

The performance started with a group item of young girls who performed a contemporary choreography to Japanese drumbeats. The second segment was led by a solo dancer to a pop song, incorporating  ballet, pop and gymnastics. 

The third part of the performance was taken over by six young ballerinas dressed in tutus who performed classical ballet to three different melodies.  

The New Zealand Tainui Waka Aoteroa group’s performance was inspired by Princess Tupuirea and the creators of all Maori national songs. It was the first time different age groups had performed together and their powerful voices kept the crowd in awe as they sang a traditional song as well as performing a haka and poi dance about their ancestral landmarks.

Kiribati Cook Islands Community presented a traditional dance depicting the graceful birds of their island, their way of sailing and the martial arts. The energetic group excited the crowd with their lively upbeat island songs which featured a fusion of Kiribati rap. 

When it came to the Fiji Cook Islands community, the Itaukei community and the Rotuman community joined together to perform a three-part item, the first featuring a traditional combination of different mekes. The second phase was ‘Bollywood’-themed and the last part of the item was a meke performed by both men and women.

The Western Australia Cook Islands community of Perth stayed true to Cook Islands culture and heritage and in fact have been composing traditional songs. Their new release, ‘Mamakiki Panakea’ will be coming out soon. Their item was themed on ‘The Young Ones, The Future of Our People’.

Tauranga Moana group came from the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand to rediscover their heritage with Takitumu.  They performed a poi dance dedicated to the Takitumu village and a kapa haka dedicated to Vetina Nicholas, before  the young boys performed a fierce haka.

Samoa Cook Islands performed  a traditional women’s Siva a men’s siva and a sasa dance (also known as the clap dance) highlighting the strength and the nature of a true Samoan warrior.  A dance item called the Taualuga was also performed.

Filipino Cook Islands Community performed an iconic dance depicting a good harvest, as well as a Spanish dance and traditional and street dances. They made effective use of props to create an outstanding show. 

Then it was the turn of Tahiti, with a traditional item featuring a drum dance, and slow island dance. They also bought in a very large rock which tested the strength of the Tahitian male dancers.

The Tongan SDA Brass Band has been linked to the Cook Islands for many years and played several lovely Tongan melodies for the crowd which included a drum dance and slow island dance.

Traditional item which had drum dance, and slow island dance.

They also bought in a very large rock where they tested the strength of the Tahitian men in their item.

Then it was back to Australia, with Sydney’s Cook Islands community performing an item based on the Vaka Marumaru that landed in Sydney in 2013. Their item was made up of drum dance and island song.

Last but certainly not least came the Chinese Shenzhen Arts Troupe which presented an array of spectacular items displaying their musical and gymnastic skills – as well as a touch of magic.

Their acrobatic item was an intense and remarkable performance and the performers wowed the crowd with their amazing agility and coordination.  

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