Editor's Picks

Pacific Islands

‘I feel free when I dance, it makes me feel free’

Saturday 25 July 2020 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Entertainment


‘I feel free when I dance, it makes me feel free’
Siblings Ambushia and Tamaiva Mateariki are the 2020 Te Mire Ura Senior open national dance champions. MELINA ETCHES: 20072401/20072402

Last year they were both runner-up, this year a brother and sister went one better at the dancer of the year contest. Photo essay by Melina Etches and Danilo Reyes.

Tamaiva and Ambushia Mateariki danced their hearts out to claim both the men’s and women’s crowns at Te Mire Ura senior dancer of the year contest.

Ambushia, 19, was humbled and excited to win this year – last year they both placed runner up in the same competition.

She has danced since she was little. “I feel free when I dance, it makes me feel free and takes away my stress.”

Her chosen theme was “Standing Grounds”: expressing the culture and heritage she comes from, through dance and singing.

Ambushia was brought up by her mother’s teachings, with her father’s support, inspiring her to embrace and value her culture.

She dedicated her performance to her beautiful and amazing mother – and she opened her dance by honouring and embracing her mother on-stage.

“Thank you so much mum, and I’d like our young and beautiful maidens to listen and learn to your parents,” she said.

Her song was composed and choreographed by Merle Pukerua and tuned by Teata Nga Moeara; the costume was designed by Merle Pukerua and Tupe.

Tamaiva, 21, focused his presentation and dance on the outbreak of the flu like virus COVID-19 pandemic that affected the world.

He cleverly portrayed the symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty breathing through actions in his routines.

The pandemic has “also put our trust and faith in God to a challenge and a test.”

Tamaiva believes that although the churches had been closed for prayers, everyone had prayed and Our Father had heard.

“There was no sign of illness in our beautiful Cook Islands, so we must give thanks to our Heavenly Father for protecting us and continue protecting us.”

The experienced Mateariki dancers also hold the 2019 International Cook Islands Dancer of the Year titles.

Their younger brother, 18-year-old Ngatokotoru, also participated in the Seniors event on Thursday night.

Te Mire Ura Senior Female section awards

1st: Ambushia Mateariki
2nd: Tori Sosene
3rd: Nii Terepita
Slow beat: Ambushia Mateariki
Fast beat: Ambushia Mateariki
Best costume: Tori Sosene
Consolation awards: Martha Iorangi, Abigail Barret, Martha Taramai Strickland, Davinia Aererua and Salome Bates

1st: Tamaiva Mateariki
2nd: Edward Nga
3rd: Ngatokotoru Mateariki
Slow beat: Tamaiva Mateariki
Fast beat: Tamaiva Mateariki
Best costume: Toru Mateariki
Consolation awards: Tony Turaki, Rouruina Taokia, Anthony Enoka, Piritau Nga