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With pearls thrown to the crowd, young drummers smaller than the drums they were beating, a turtle on stage (well, kind of) and much more, Thursday night’s performances were full of surprises for this (papa’a) reporter’s first real look at what makes Te Maeva Nui such a magical occasion for the whole of the Cook Islands.
Dehydration and tiredness resulted in performers collapsing while either coming off the stage, or on the grounds outside the building during the Te Maeva Nui celebrations at the National Auditorium this week.
The crowds are getting bigger, the final night is inching closer, and the pressure on performers to nail every inch of the national auditorium into the memories of those present is intense.
Cultural Development ministry head Anthony Turua says he's putting all team leaders to Te Maeva Nui on notice that any performers looking faint or tired will not be allowed to take the stage.
The feast of Cook Islands culture that is Te Maeva Nui took up on Monday night from where Sunday’s choir competition left off, with a new set of judges – and in keeping with the theme of ‘te au arapo o toku matakeinanga/enua’ (the traditional calendars of my ancestors/island).
Cook Islands Maori became the first foreign language to be used to recite the parliamentary prayer at the New Zealand parliament earlier this week.
The Ministry of Cultural Development is saying little about widespread criticism of the long-delayed start to Friday’s float parade.