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The return of the champions

Monday 27 May 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Entertainment, Features

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The return of the champions
Mere Vua Ravonu, winner of the Expatriates Female section, performs in the slow beat section. MELINA ETCHES/24052503

Tauranga Vananga’s Te Mire Ura dance extravaganza for the Expatriates, Experts, Golden Oldies, and Masters divisions yet again delighted the audience over the weekend in the grand finale of the annual series of individual competitions.

After missing out on last year’s event in the Experts section due to medical reasons, the graceful and fabulous champion dancer Uirangi Bishop from Aitutaki reappeared on stage, thrilling the audience with her electrifying performances, taking home the coveted female champion trophy at the Rehab Nightclub on Friday night.


Expert dance champion Uirangi Bishop returned on stage with her stunning performances to win the Expert Female trophy. MELINA ETCHES/24052544

Last year, Bishop received medical treatment in Aotearoa New Zealand, where she stayed for nine months.

“Back then I thought I might not be able to do this dancing event again but God had another plan, I guess,” Bishop said.

“I returned home healthy as ever and got back into doing what I am very passionate about which is dancing – our culture.

“My highlight is my returning home and being able to perform again. It was an amazing feeling.”

Bishop is part of the Cook Islands National Arts Theatre (CINAT) team travelling to Hawai’i for the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture to be held from June 6–16, 2024.

Appearing for the first time in Te Mire Ura, Tauepa Tutakiao-Tupa from Matavera showcased her talent on stage claiming the champion trophy in the Masters (46 – 55 years) Female Section.

Mere Vua Ravonu, representing the Rotuman community and Apii Te Uki Ou, made her debut in the Expatriate section and took home the overall female title.

“I wanted to give it a try… and I was overwhelmed and excited when it was announced that I had won,” said Ravonu, who acknowledged Marlina Nicholas for assisting her with her costumes and choreography.

After a decade, former senior dance champion Tairi Paulo from Aitutaki returned to the stage this year, claiming all the awards in the Masters Male Section.

The cultural expert master of ceremonies, Papatua Papatua, entertained the audience and boosted the performers’ morale.

Te Mire Ura was hosted at Rehab Nightclub which boasted a full house on the night.

The following are the Tauranga Vananga Te Mire Ura results, as announced at the prizegiving awards on the night.

Expatriates 18+ Years Male Section: Best Slow beat, Fast beat, Special Award, and 1st Overall - Tiree Harworth; 2nd Overall - Junrie Tuares. Female Section: Best Slow beat, Fast beat, and 1st Overall - Mere Vua Ravonu, 2nd Overall – Pip Hansen, 3rd Overall – Laura; Consolation - Maria Latu representing Fiji and CC Tamure.

Golden Oldies 56+ Years Male Section: Best Slow beat, Fast beat, Special Award, and 1st Overall - Noo Ngametua; 2nd Overall - Matapo Makara representing Nukuroa. Female Section: Best Slow beat, Fast beat, Special Award, and 1st Overall - Mata Arnold; 2nd Overall - Tarearea Kimitaunga; 3rd Overall - Ruth Scott Sahay.

Masters (46 – 55 years) Male Section: Best Slow beat, Fast beat, Special Award, 1st Overall - Tairi Paulo; 2nd - Alan Rua; 3rd – Paiti. Female Section: Best Fast beat, Special Award, and 1st Overall - Tauepa Tutakiao-Tupa; 2nd Overall and Best Slow beat - Lotiola “Loti Baby” Mateariki; 3rd Overall - Joanna Manuela; Consolation prizes - Ngatamaine Teaka and Ngatokoitu Daniel.

Experts (30 - 45 Years) Male Section: 1st Overall - Travel Tuaputa. Female Section: Best Slow beat, Fast beat, and 1st Overall - Uirangi Bishop; 2nd Overall - Michelle Siloata-Elia; 3rd Overall - Belinda Williams.