The five-day reunion at Rutaki School, which started on Saturday, has about 80 family members from Manihiki, Rarotonga, Australia and New Zealand participating.
Eldest in the family, Daniel Apii, said they have been planning the reunion for a long time.
He said some of their family members were unable to attend this gathering for personal reasons, adding everyone was acknowledged at the reunion.
“There are 17 siblings altogether. In another family, some of them would be referred as feeding, or foster children but, in this family, they are all the same because that’s how Ma and Pa loved everybody,” Apii said.
The reunion started off with a genealogy presentation on Saturday followed by the church service on Sunday at the CICC Church in Arorangi.
Apii’s maternal grandfather Pastor Teina Tuarau served as a minister at that church.
Later on Sunday, the third and fourth generation presentation was held.
Yesterday, the family members had sports day on the beach nearby followed by a quick dip to beat the heat.
Later in the afternoon the members took part in the cultural activities.
The cultural activity was based on the tree of life – the coconut tree.
“In our island Manihiki, a coconut tree is regarded as the tree of life. Every part of the tree is utilised because of the isolation from shopping centre,” family member Mahai Daniel said.
“We want the younger generation, those who came from New Zealand and Australia, as well as the younger ones from Rarotonga and Manihiki to know this.”
Apii said the reunion was basically centered on the life of his parents.
“We are here to remember our father and mother for the things that they were very good at, things we want our kids and younger generation to remember them because not all of them know,” he said.
“This reunion is about their life in four phases – their life in Manihiki and then in Rarotonga, followed by New Zealand and Australia and then coming back to Manihiki to spend their final days.”
Daniel said it was the desire of his grandfather to die on the land he was born in that led to their decision to return to Manihiki after spending years overseas.
Ten-year-old Teina Rere Rattle was among the younger generation that are part of this reunion.
He was pleased to meet his cousins.
“I haven’t seen many of my cousins and a lot of them I have met for the first time. We have been playing sports, went down for swim and enjoying ourselves,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the picnic on the final day on Wednesday.”
New Zealand-based Koteka Rameka, who is married into the family, said the reunion was a humbling experience for him.
The New Zealand Maori said while there were similarities between the two cultures, there is still a lot to learn from this gathering.