Penrhyn mayor Rio Teika said islanders had received no limitations from Ministry of Culture as to how many of their people could travel to Rarotonga for the celebrations.
“I think in 2015 we had maybe only 80 people make the journey, which certainly can place a strain on those family members who are left behind.
“I came in 2015, but my wife had to stay behind and take care of our children. This year it is certainly enjoyable to be able to bring her and a lot of other extended family members to be included in our celebrations.”
Teika praised the conditions in which the contingent travelled to Rarotonga, aboard the chartered vessel Nivaga III.
“We were very lucky to be on that boat; it was far too nice to be carrying all of us passengers. The captain initially told us it would only take maybe two days to get here, but I think the swell had other ideas. But three days was still very good.”
Like many of the other outer islands, Penrhyn will be setting up a stall at next week’s BTIB Trade Days.
Though practice and the initial choreography for their Te Maeva Nui performances only started a month before their departure, Teika was confident of his group’s ability.
“We are practicing for two hours each day and feel as though we have what it takes to take out some of the top prizes up for grabs this year. Some islands are doing more practice, but we are happy with our current schedule in the lead up to the competition.”
With many of the current group not having participated in Te Maeva Nui before, Teika said it was a special time.
“We have quite a number of kids who have never been to Rarotonga before. (I don’t know) whether that is due to the numbers restriction we have had in the past or just due to their age, but they are all loving it.
“For so many of them, being here is a real eye-opening experience. But it also is giving many of them a chance to connect with family members they may never have met before and that in itself is what this whole celebration is all about: Coming together and celebrating our culture and our traditions and hopefully, taking home a few prizes.”