The near-capacity crowd enjoyed a spectacle that featured exceptional displays of dancing skills and musicianship.
As with every other night the standard of performances, the standard of choreography could only be described as “fantastic”.
“I tell you what, it is so difficult for me to say who is good or (who is) better than the other, because I saw the effort put into it, and the love put into it, and the passion put into all categories” said MC Papatua Papatua.
“The action songs, drum dances, the ute and so forth, were just amazing.
“So, everyone is the winner. They’re all winners from their hearts, in terms of culture and their passion for our islands.”
This year’s cultural performances saw some outstanding changes in costume design, with most teams using bright colours.
Tupapa Maraerenga set the night off with a powerful Pe’e, to the theme of “Te Au Manga A Toku Matakeinanga” (Tribal Foods of my Community) and an exhortation to keep Cook Islands traditions alive.
The performance was a feast for the eyes, making use of vast quantities of bananas, coconuts, and taro, and even a pig. The traditional chant, which was overlaid with beautiful harmonising vocals, also featured smiling children, and traditional dress.
The crowd was already buzzing before the stage lights came on for the evening’s first drum dance, Atiu Enua’s Ura Pa’u. Its theme was sharing between villages, with performers wearing stunning red costumes.
Vaka Takitumu followed strongly with their Ute. Oire Nikao’ Kapa Rima produced beautiful harmonies backed by ukuleles, as well as a classic warrior challenge.
Mangaia Enua’s Ura Pa’u was a dazzling display of drum dance choreography with modern rich red and blue costumes.
The special guest entertainers, a professional dance troupe from Sydney known as Manea Pacifica, captivated the crowd and set the stage for the second half of the evening’s performances.
They delivered a dazzling, glitzy performance of high energy dance and received huge applause.
Manihiki Henua then took the night’s performances back in time, setting their Pe’e as a tribute to their Ariki.
Mauke Enua’s Ura Pa’u had a spectacular lighting backdrop of red and blue colours, and a theme which involved offering cooked parcels of traditional food to the crowd.
The drum dance was a high energy show-stopper. And if you looked very closely, the performers included a few special quests from Manea Pacifica, who learned the item in just three days to be able to join in the group’s dance.
Featuring colours of the ocean in the women’s costumes and colours of the land in the men’s ones, Pukapuka Enua produced a vocally stunning Ute. Vaka Puaikura’s team wore beautiful green and yellow costumes that matched their wonderful Kapa Rima composition.
Finally, Aitutaki’s Ura Pa’u which made use of a smoke machine and stunning traditional costumes and rhythmic drum dance choreography sent the entire audience home with smiles on their faces.
Those lucky enough to be in the audience witnessed yet another night that would have had the judges under plenty of pressure to separate the best from the very best.