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Cook Islands leaves lasting impression at FestPAC

Saturday 22 June 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Art, Entertainment, Features


Cook Islands  leaves lasting  impression  at FestPAC
Culture experts Tautape Samson and Kura Taruia were members of the Cook Islands delegation to FestPAC in Hawai'i. 24062135

The lively iconic neighbourhood of Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawai’i – a world-renowned tourist destination – played host to a celebration of the rich cultures of 27 Pasifika nations.

Embracing performers and artisans from across Oceania, this exceptional event held every four years serves as a vigorous platform for nations to reconnect their collective heritage as well as create and shape relationships and friendships.

The vibrant performances, crafts, and presentations from each nation reflected not only the unique cultural identities that make up the vast and diverse region but also its connections and similarities in language and natural fauna and flora.

Prime Minister Mark Brown, William Numanga, Daphne Brown and Tauariki Kalama (nee Numanga) are pictured at the evening kaikai hosted by the Cook Islands community in Hawai'i. 24062136

Workshops, seminars, weaving, arts, and crafts, cultural numbers, and intimate conversations bridged the distance between the people of these island nations rediscovering common roots and strengthening ties.

From the arrival of Vaka Marumaru Atua, the signing of the Sister City Agreement between Honolulu and Avarua, Rarotonga, to the thunderous eruption of the drums that introduced the captivating Cook Islands National Arts Theatre (CINAT) dancers on the dance floor, the Cook Islands became a standout feature of the festival, enthralling audiences with their dynamic presentations across multiple artistic disciplines.

The dancers delighted onlookers with their fluid movements, powerful pe’e, and heartfelt performances.

But it was not just the dancers who gathered attention, the artisans and carvers also drew large crowds, as spectators marvelled at the intricate craftsmanship and cultural significance of their work.

Notably, the Cook Islands contingent as a whole presented themselves with an exceptional level of poise and friendliness, dressed in vibrant attire that only added to their warm, welcoming appearance in representing the country.

The youngest member of the team 11-year-old expert drummer Kaena Short thrilled audiences with his skills. 24062137

Having attended FestPAC in Samoa some years ago, artisan Mii Upu was overwhelmed and impressed with the success of the Festival Village at the Hawai’i Convention Center.

“It’s been so good, I think the hosting from day one has been great. I have no complaints,” says Upu.

“From day one when we started with our crafts, it was awesome. It was tiring but I’m glad I had my two helpers Kura and Teva.

“People just buy and I couldn’t believe they know the value of the crafts, I think everyone, all of our artisans did well.”

Members of the CINAT team at the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki. 24062138

Cultural experts in costume designing and choreography, Kura Taruia and Tautape Samson, were part of the costume designing team.

“We were invited by the costume lead, taunga Mareta Angene-Teira to make a set of costumes for the dancers,” shares Taruia.

Both Taruia and Samson were proud to be a part of the delegation and contribute their expertise to the group, making and uplifting reconnections.

A combination of artistic excellence and genuine hospitality made the Cook Islands one of the most popular and memorable presences at the festival.

The FestPAC 2024 was held from June 6-16. The remaining members of Team Cook Islands arrive home tonight.