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Atuanga Rakei to inspire designers

Wednesday 7 December 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, National


Atuanga Rakei to inspire designers
Dance costumes at the Atuanga Rakei event. PC: GERARDUS VERSPEEK. 22112113

Cook Islands mu'umu'u and cultural costume designers have expressed their creativity and passion wowing the audience with their exhibits at the Atuanga Rakei competition in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Talented Cook Islands fashion designer Maggie (Nicholas) Anitelea, a Cultural Tutor, Te Maeva Nui New Zealand Judge and Costume Designer - is the Vaka Leader driving the Atuanga Rakei Event.

The event is aimed to inspire, innovate, educate,and provide a platform to exhibit Cook Islands dance costumes, Anitelea said.

Atuanga Rakei promotes the creativity, beauty and intricate detail of dance costumes, and provides a competitive dance platform for all our women in the Cook Islands community, she said.

Over the years she believed the stunning creations of the designers, were not suitably or deservedly recognised at a higher level. 

Since a lot of time, finance and workmanship goes into making cultural costumes, it is important to acknowledge the designers, she said.

This year the theme focused on Rakeianga Natura o toku Ipukarea or the Natural adornment of my Homeland.

Held over two nights at the Papatoetoe Town Hall, the first evening hosted the Designer of the Year which showcased three sections - the Muumuu, Slow Beat and Fast Beat Costumes with each piece modelled by the designer’s dancer on an interactive runway between guest tables.

The second night featured the Atuanga Rakei Ura Anga, the Dancer of the Year competition which displayed the actual designs in three sections - Ura Penu, Slow Beat and Fast Beat.

Anitelea has her own label MAKKE (pronounced Maggie), the letter K representing her Kuki Airani heritage.

On one of her trips to the homeland of Rarotonga as a child, she remembers seeing a carved Tangaroa statue which she felt resembled the letter K which sparked the beginning of her double K signature.

Anitelea is the eldest of five siblings to the late Akinuku and Taiau Nicholas, and has two children Pax and Jett with her husband Joe Anitelea.

Born in the Cook Islands she grew up in the South Auckland suburb of Otara raised in “an incredibly talented and artistic family” who loved Cook Islands music and culture.

Her parents believed it was particularly important their children learn and maintain Cook Islands Maori language and culture.

She always loved fashion from since she was a kid, watching the  Miss Universe shows - just to see all the dazzling evenings gowns and fascinating national costumes worn by the contestants.

Seven months ago, her designs of denim and frills infused with Cook Islands culture appeared in the 2022 Pacific Fashion Fusion Show (PFFS), a platform that empowers designers to follow their dreams and express their passions.

She is grateful for the PFFS platform for all Pacifica creatives, which has given her opportunities to develop and become more empowered.

Anitelea is looking forward to more creative collaborations and to seeing more Cook Islands designers at the next Atuanga Rakei.

She is grateful to the main sponsors: Gayle and her team from The Centre for Pacific Languages, CIDANZ (Cook Islands Development Agency NZ) and MPP (Ministry for Pacific Peoples).

Members of the Atuanga Rakei team are: Joe Anitelea, Ben Samuel and Roimata Selina Patia; Judges Lena Kiria, Caroline Bishop and Niva Tuteru-Maroroa: Emcee Susnation Seta.

The results of the 2023 Atuanga Rakei Designer of the Year: Mu'umu'u Section 1st Kura Taruia, 2nd June Charlie Teara, 3rd Penelope Emile; Solo/ Slow Beat 1st Kura Taruia, 2nd June Charlie-Teara, 3rd Vivian Arthur Hosking-Aue; Fast Beat 1st Kura Taruia, 2nd June Charlie-Teara, 3rd Vivian Hosking-Aue; Overall Designer of the Year 2022 - Kura Taruia.

The 2023 Atuanga Rakei Dancer of the Year: Ura Penu 1st Zoe Hoff, 2nd Neiomi Dash Tangimetua, 3rd Irava Tuia O Tera; Solo/Slow Beat 1st Neiomi Tangimetua, 2nd Zoe Hoff, 3rd Irava Upu; Fast Beat 1st Neiomi Tangimetua, 2nd Irava Upu, 3rd Zoe Hoff; Overall Dancer of the Year Neiomi Tangimetua.