Walking from home to home singing for the Mauke teretere January 1st 2021. Photos: Daniel Fisher/21010817.
The Christmas and New Year Day festive season in Mauke is about “rangokere” – the gifting of baskets of food, the picnics, the joyful songs and dances and the hosting of specially prepared feasts in homes – teretere or roni.
Mauke, there are no Christmas trees or presents, instead the people come
together to celebrate and share the spirit of the season.
turn to “rangokere” – the gifting of baskets of food, the picnics, the joyful
songs and dances and the hosting of specially prepared feasts in homes. These
traditional festivities are also known as teretere.
Teura Tuakanangaro Snow, who is in her 80s, recalls these traditions that began
before she was born. But back then, she says a village would get together and
the feast was prepared in one communal umu before the food was shared among the
days, residents of each participating home in the village prepare their own
baskets of food.
are no Christmas trees or presents, instead the people come together to
celebrate love and appreciation and to share the spirit of Christmas by gifting
Fisher and Vainepoto Tangaroa from Cook Islands Tourism witnessed and
documented the extraordinary festive period on Mauke.
experience of Rangokere gave Fisher an insight into how the islands in the Pa
Enua continue their traditions during the festive period.
not about the predictable Christmas tree or Santa Claus; it’s more about a time
when everybody gets together to celebrate – a time to share, be grateful and
appreciate the island.”
Carrying a basket of food for the rangokere Mauke tradition of gifting baskets of food. Photos: Daniel Fisher/21010811.
opposed to giving presents and Santa, Fisher says, “it’s a whole new
perspective of Christmas and New Year’s holiday, it’s essentially a time when
the whole island opens up”.
is held on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve between the villages of Oiretumu
and Kimiangatau; the oire (village) take turns in hosting the gifting of food
families in each oire participated in rangokere, a total of 26 homes.
was astounded at the openly giving nature of the people.
the selflessness of the whole concept of rangokere, the giving people - with
their crops, farm animals and seafood, they give freely to another family
knowing that blessing will be returned in the future.”
morning of Christmas Eve starts off with a service and intense joyous singing
followed by the village parade to the hosting Cook Islands Christian Church
(CICC) to present their baskets.
the family who have presented the kikau basket are written on each basket; the
pastor of the hosting church/village then allocates the baskets to each
New Year’s Eve rangokere, the village who received baskets on Christmas eve
would reciprocate a basket to the same value or greater.
understood that in the past some families would feel pressured and would return
the same baskets they received on Christmas eve.
time they discouraged families not to return the basket they were given in
they were encouraged to approach the family and ask what they would like e.g.
fish, crops, pigs etc.
says: “There is no ill feeling between the oire’s, no boasting or teasing, you
get to meet everyone, everybody is on the same team and just enjoys it and has
a good time, you get to meet so many people you meet the whole island.”
teretere or roni held on New Year’s Day and hosted by Kimiangatau saw 150
people participate in and out of the procession.
the highlights for Fisher was the singing and being merry with everyone visiting
the delegated homes.
such an awesome afternoon walking through the oire for a customary progressive
dining experience – every house offers something different from food, drinks
and sweets, we had an awesome time.”
has the fond vision of a Mama in a white dress carrying an old-fashioned styled
teapot, and winking while pouring hot drinks for people.
a hot drink, with bourbon,” he adds with a laugh.
elderly on the island don’t miss out either, they ride their motorbikes door to
door joining in the celebrations.
Covid-19 related travel restrictions, overseas families could not attend -
usually an average of 500 Maukean’s from Australia and New Zealand would visit.
large number of 100 Rarotonga and Aitutaki residents took part in the rangokere
and set up tables for the roni.
says the event is, “definitely something to experience to truly understand what
rangokere festive season is all about, I saw why so many Maukean’s return for
festivities that occur are the picnic days and according to Fisher, “that has
an interesting element, basically it’s like our version of a runathon in Raro
but on wheels, dancing and singing”.
were surprised with the amount raised, between $1500 to $2000, which averaged
to about the same as previous years, says Fisher.
Taoro, who also attended rangokere, recalls her childhood memories of the
the picnic, trucks and motorbikes drive around a village, stopping at houses.
People come out of their homes and join in the dancing and give a small
Frances Taoro and Tungane (Nane) Purea enjoy the teretere day in Mauke. Photos: Daniel Fisher/20010810.
olden days (when she was little) the whole island participated and it was
usually held inside the church yard. The yard was filled with baskets of food,
mainly pigs and taro, local crops, wild chicken - that morning you could smell
the roasted pigs’ people were preparing for their baskets.”
saddened that nowadays the entire island does not participate in the rangokere
it’s just within the CICC, we have gone back to that way of thinking it’s a
CICC thing - it’s supposed to be the whole of Mauke. It’s a way of giving and
sharing what you have with your neighbour in the next village, it’s an
days just after New Year, people would select the pigs for the rangokere, they
would feed and fatten it and prepare their crops, says Taoro.
past few years, carton of chops and chicken are bought, and Taoro believes the
costs have actually deterred people from participating in the event.
we could go back to how it was, for the whole enua, the whole island to be part
would be so exciting if everyone on the island got involved and we built up
this event again, instead of looking at it as if it’s on its way out.”
who was delighted at the participation of the rangokere for 2020/2021, says
“the love and sharing was awesome and a lot more people took part.”
Story, who lives on Mauke, says the event is important and special.
Christmas when you don’t have any family you can feel so alone, so it’s a time
when everyone comes together to be with each other.
Eileen Story and Mauke councilor Joanne Steven’s cheers to the New Years day celebrations. Photos: Daniel Fisher/21010814.
don’t have Christmas trees with presents, we give kits of food, we don’t have
Santa come to us with gifts, we give to others, they give to us…
really enjoy that the island comes together to gift families with food baskets
and those families not only enjoy it for themselves but share it with other
families that may not have participated in the rangokere.”