Air Rarotonga has already begun to fly Southern group members back home, with flights departing for Aitutaki, Atiu, Mauke, Mangaia and Mitario starting on Thursday. They will continue until later this afternoon.
The General Transport vessel Layer Mas is scheduled to depart on Monday for Mangaia, Mauke and Mitario before finally travelling to Aitu on August 16. It will then depart on the first of two journeys to the Northern group.
The first will leave the Avatiu Wharf on August 20 for Penrhyn, Rakahanga and Manihiki, before returning on August 28 and departing for a second journey on September 1. Meanwhile, the Taio Shipping Services vessel Lady Moana will depart for Palmerston on Tuesday next week.
The chartered ship Nivaga III from Tuvalu will depart on August 17 for Penhryn, while the French Polynesia-based Tahiti Nui will leave a day later for Manihiki. Both ships were used to bring outer islanders to Rarotonga last month.
The Te Maeva Nui festivities ended with a closing ceremony at the National Auditorium on Monday and have been hailed a success by Cultural Development secretary Anthony Turua.
This year’s celebrations were available via livestream and were viewed by more than 300,000 people, while the video posts on the Ministry of Cultural Development Facebook page received more than 688,000 views during the four-week long campaign.
The huge influx of visitors on the island also created a bonanza for some Rarotonga businesses, with huge amounts of groceries and other supplies being purchased from supermarkets by members of visiting cultural teams.
The visitors from the outer islands would also have provided a major boost for the island’s bars and restaurants, as well as car and motorcycle hire companies.