It was the second time the event has been held. The first was in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of self government last year, and encouraged by the success of that, the organisors decided to do it again.
There were 42 entries from 28 designers in three categories; women and mens sections for customes made only from natural fibres and materials, and an open “wearable art” category.
Every one of the entries was a work of art involving hundreds of hours of intricate work, but a stipulation was that the finished product had be able to be used as a dance costume.
While many of them had a traditional look about them, others were well outside the normal square; all were beautifully finished and shown off to perfection by the people modelling them.
The “naturalness” of the costumes was probably ably illustrated by the winning costume in the Natural Female Section. The winning designer was ‘Auntie Poko’ (Teupoko Okotai Tangianau) and her creation was made entirely from pearls, shells and rito; the only non-traditional part of the process was the use of a needle to pull through the rito holding the various elements of the mult-piece costume together.
For the second year running Rakei Manava was sponsored by the Cook Islands Trading Company (CITC), this year supported by the Ministry of Culture.
A panel of judges (Papatua Papatua, Jackie Tuara-Newham, and George Williamson) chose first, second and third winners in each category, and in addition to having the excellence of their work recognised, designers also won prize money. Four thousand dollars for first, two thousand for second and a thousand for third.
Organisor Dianna Clarke created the event to honour and recognise what she called, “The people who make the dancers look good.
“People like my mother Vaine who live and breathe culture through the magic of their hands. They are the unsung heroes who need to be acknowledged for the love of our culture and keeping it alive.”
- Jaewynn McKay