Police officer Dallaglio Tony Turaki, 21, will perform on stage in the first cultural dance contest he has ever entered.
Turaki is a member of the Moana Roa dance troupe and last year travelled overseas with the Cook Islands National Arts Theatre.
Proud of his culture, it was back then when he decided to participate without any influence from family or friends
“I love dancing, and taking part in this is something I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s motivating when I watch experienced top dancers,” he said.
“People my age, we are trying to hold onto our culture like speaking the language, actually doing cultural things, helping in the taro patch.I also want to show that we are doing our bit as well.”
Turaki has lived most of his life in Australia, but he moved to the Cook Islands in 2017 to live with his parents Te Au Ariki Anthony James Turaki and Lisa, on the island of Ma‘uke.
“I couldn’t speak Maori back then, only the usual basic words, but after three months I was good, I picked up the language quickly.”
Turaki admits he felt nervous during his first rehearsal on stage at the National Auditorium on Monday afternoon.
However yesterday, Turaki’s nerves had settled, he is excited and determined to do his best on Thursday night.
He thanks David Samuel, Clee Marsters, Bubs Manavaroa, family and friends for their support.
The Senior open contestants in order of appearance are: Nii Terepita, Piritau Nga Jnr, Martha Strickland, Rouruina Taokia, Martha Iorangi, Edward Nga, Abigail Barret, Ngatokotoru Mateariki, Davinia Aererua, Dallaglio Tony Turaki, Salome Bates, Tamaiva Mateariki, Tori Sosene, Anthony Enoka and Ambushia Mateariki.
Judges for the event are: Jane Rubena, Peka Takai George, Makitua Boaza, Alan Rua, Uta Raitia, Ana Savage, Larry Tumai and Enua Peyroux.
The show starts at 7pm at the National Auditorium and the door entry is only a gold coin donation per person.