This year the opening events will include a torch relay from the Queen’s Representative’s residence in Titikaveka. The torch will be lit at 9.30am and Scout torch-bearers will set off on the long walk to Constitution Park, eventually joining up with the float parade through Avarua.
The programme for the official opening will be compered by Papatua Papatua. Invited guests are asked to be seated by 12.25pm and VIPs including the Kaumaiti Nui (president) of the House of Ariki, Tou Travel Ariki, deputy prime minister Mark Brown, prime minister Henry Puna and Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters will arrive shortly afterwards.
A prayer service will be conducted by the chairman of the Religious Advisory Council, after which the prime minister will light the Te Maeva Nui flame.
To make the most of the colourful spectacle the float parade provides, it’s best to take up a good vantage point along the route as the floats wend their way slowly to Avarua wharf via Te Maire Nui drive on the lagoon side of the road.
Saturday’s Punanga Nui market is always a popular attraction for both visitors and locals, and this Saturday’s market is expected to be a huge event, buoyed by the large number of visitors on Rarotonga from the outer islands, New Zealand and Australia.
At 7pm on Saturday another eagerly anticipated event, the CITC Rakei Manava Cook Islands costume contest, will take place at the National Auditorium, with $21,000 in cash prizes on offer.
This is the fourth year CITC has sponsored Rakei Manava and company director Dianna Clarke says each year sees an exciting lift in standards.
Rakei Manava features three dance costume categories: Female Natural, Male Natural and Open. In each category first prize is $4000, second $2000, and third $1000.
Designers who will show off their original costumes this year include Kathy Healey, Pare Tuaati, Kendrick Rima, Tanya Savage and Aloma Moore. For the first time in the history of the contest, more than 36 costumes will be presented. Live entertainment will be provided by top local entertainers Tani & Rose, plus the talented Mere Darling.
There will be plenty of interest in the costume contest as it serves as a platform for the first presentation of contestants who will vie for honours in Miss Cook Islands 2018.
If you’d like to go but still haven’t bought a ticket, they are available at all divisions of CITC. General admission is $10, children $5 and reserve tickets available for $20. VIP tickets cost $65 per person. For more information contact Mere Short at CITC Avarua or by phone on 54409.
The doors at the auditorium will open at 6pm and the show starts at 7pm. Food vendors will also be in the grounds offering a selection of tasty treats.
The week’s cultural competitions will begin on Sunday with church choir performances at the National Auditorium. Entry is by gold coin donation and if you love music, it’s an event you definitely shouldn’t miss.
From Monday to Friday next week there will be cultural performances every night at the auditorium and they are a “must see” for anyone new to the colourful and energetic spectacle of Cook Islands culture at its best. The closely-contested performances are enormously popular with local people and will offer a memorable experience.
The Bank of the Cook Islands Trade Days get off to a start at Constitution Park on Monday and will run through to Saturday. Highlighting the music, dancing, food and arts and crafts of Rarotonga and the outer islands, the trade days get better and better each year and are a highlight of Te Maeva Nui.
Another event that must not be missed is the Tangi Ka’ara drumming contest. A free event, it provides a truly awesome experience as teams vie for honours in producing the best and most original beats. It will be followed by another free event, a family music festival featuring the best of local talent.
Church services around the island on Sunday will be followed that evening with Imene Tuki (traditional hymns) performances at the National Auditorium.
The 53rd Constitution Day celebrations incorporating the Te Maeva Nui awards will close this year’s festivities. They will be held at the National Auditorium on August 6, a national holiday.
For another taste of local music, don’t miss the Cook Islands Youth Concert, starting at the auditorium at 7pm.