The four-day gathering at the small village of Tengatangi in Atiu late last month was the first for the family who are now planning to make the reunion a triennial event.
A total of 102 participants travelled from Rarotonga, New Zealand and Australia to celebrate the life and legacy of the late Papa Teiotu-O-Tangaroa Tangatapoto (OBE).
Tangatapoto was the first mayor of Atiu, a former school teacher and principal and founder of the Apostolic Church on the island.
Son Paul Teiotu said the reunion took three years of planning after the idea was first brought up back in 2013.
The grandchildren of Papa Teiotu came up with the idea of holding a family reunion in Atiu as many of them had grown up knowing very little about him.
This was supported by their parents, who helped planned the inaugural get-together.
“It’s all about the blood connection. It’s a way to know, especially for our children, of where they are from,” Paul said.
“In total, we have 13 generations. My father was the ninth. So there was a lot to learn about the family history during this reunion.”
One of the granddaughters, Danielle Mahe, said the Teiotu-O-Tangaroa family reunion had activities that appealed to both the young and older participants.
“Some of us grandchildren have attended family reunions in the past, however, genealogy often made up the bulk of the reunion programme,” Mahe said.
“To be honest, some of us found these reunions pretty boring and uninspiring.
“So for this reunion, we ensured that a variety of activities, including genealogy, were incorporated.”
Following the opening ceremony on day one on December 27, participants were split into groups where they created cheers and banners for their teams.
Later that night, each team presented their cheers as well as heard from fellow family members who had accomplished great feats in their lives.
This included New Zealand-born Nick Payne, grandchild of Papa Teiotu, who shared his experience of becoming a pilot for Air New Zealand.
Another grandchild, Ake Teiotu, who resides in Rarotonga, shared her recent accomplishment of gaining a Diploma of Nursing from the Ministry of Health in conjunction with NZQS.
On day two, participants were given the opportunity to learn how to climb a coconut tree as well as use its leaves to weave crafts such as baskets and hats. They also played traditional games such as tipi rore and pei pua.
“These games were followed by traditional games of the western world including egg and spoon, potato sack and leg racing. The day ended with teams competing against each other in a series of minute-to-win-it games,” Mahe added.
Genealogy and the variety show were the main events on day three.
Genealogy occupied most of the day as representatives from each family presented their own family tree.
“The variety show was held later in the evening. The theme for the variety show was the Olympics.
“Teams were each given a flag of a country as well as an object to incorporate into a seven minute performance.
“The variety shows was definitely a highlight of the reunion as teams gathered together to showcase their creative, yet witty performances. Some locals even said that much joy and laughter could be heard from across the island.”
Mahe said the final day of the reunion gave participants the opportunity to share their thoughts about the event as well as say their final goodbyes.
“Teariki Emaema, the wife of Papa Teiotu, officially closed the Teiotu-O-Tangaroa family reunion.”
Paul said the reason for holding their first reunion in Atiu was to get the family members “back to its roots”.
He said they hired a local church catering group and donated books to the Enuamanu School.
“We wanted to give back to the local community through this reunion,” Paul added.
“Overall, participants had a great time. Some of them even said that this was the best family reunion they had ever attended.
“Many of them, including those who were unable to attend, are looking forward to the next Teiotu-O-Tangaroa family reunion which will be held in 2019 in Sydney, Australia.”