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Culture confirms Te Maeva Nui 2023 ‘in a reduced form’

Tuesday 28 February 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Culture, National

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Culture confirms Te Maeva Nui 2023 ‘in a reduced form’
A team performs Imene Tuki during the 2022 Te Maeva Nui celebrations. The annual cultural festival will return this year from July 28 to August 5, 2023. 22080513

Head of the Ministry of Cultural Development Anthony Turua confirmed to Cook Islands News that “we are still running the normal scaled down 58th Te Maeva Nui Celebration this year, similar to last year, due to the current economic landscape”.

“The normal Te Maeva Nui Celebration will continue to take place on Rarotonga similar to last year and on various Pa Enua,” he said.

The event is usually one of the key dates of the Cook Islands cultural calendar, and will take place from July 28 to August 5, according to Cook Islands Tourism’s webpage.  

Turua said there were challenges this year due to some of the performers engaged in events such as the Cook Islands Christian Church General Meeting in July, the celebration of the 200 years Arrival of Christianity to the Nga Pu Toru and Rarotonga in July, the Pacific Islands Forum Meeting later in the year, the Pacific Tuna Forum Meeting in December, and the Pacific Arts Festival delegation participation in Hawaii in June 2024.

Turua said the theme for this year’s Te Maeva Nui was “Te Au Manu Puapinga a Toku Matakei’nanga/ Enua – The important animals and birds of my tribe/islands”.   

“It is unfortunate that there are so many other events clashing with Te Maeva Nui this year, but we’re still going to host it,” he said.

“The past couple of years we’ve held it in a cutdown version, because of the current economic situation, particularly coming out of Covid-19.”

Turua said he was unsure how many teams would be participating this year, but there had been some talk about hosting the international competition alongside the Rarotonga and Pa Enua teams.

He said a lot of the teams would have the sights set on 2025,  as it is being recommended to host the combined big Constitution Te Maeva Nui Celebration in July/August 2025 to mark the 60th Constitution Celebration Anniversary.

“That’s going to be a massive event, I imagine the budget for it would be in excess of $9 million,” Turua said. “Hopefully by then the economic situation might be a bit more positive.”

Turua said this year’s event would have a budget of $150,000 for the Pa Enua and $80,000 for Rarotonga teams.

“We will be using Te Maeva Nui as a recruitment process for the Pacific Arts Festival in Hawaii in June 2024,” he said.

“For us, it’s about maintaining our cultural legacy and traditions. That’s why we have that celebration. The best sides display real passion for our culture.”