Song Quest contest bring out the love of singing

Tuesday 3 November 2020 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, National


Song Quest contest bring out the love of singing
Ake Tuakana of Apii Avarua won the1st prize for the 11 year old age group and collected Best presentation. MELINA ETCHES /20103123.

Love for lyrics attracts the lone male artist back to the annual juniors singing competition.

Three courageous eight-year-olds Eileen Akai, Moetauia Mataroa and Tera-itirere-ki-Avaiki Rongo were among the 22 singers that took to the stage for the 2020 Junior Song Quest on Friday night at the National Domes.

Rongo, who sang ‘Reo Muteki’ by the late Pastor Eliu, was happy and excited to win her category.

“I chose that song because its meaning is like the silent voices of nature, the songs calls out for us to look out for nature.

“The meaning of the song makes me feel happy.”

Rongo loves singing and decided to join the competition to gain some experience.

“I was scared at the beginning, but then I enjoyed it. And singing in Maori was cool, I got nervous at the end and ran to my mum and dad.”

First time entrant Ngamarae Tangaina from Apii Nikao felt happy and emotional to place first in the 12-year age category.

“I had a few tears,” she admits.

She chose to sing her favourite number ‘Te Ara e, to manea’, “because of the beauty of the song”.

Stepping onto the stage to face the crowd, Tangaina felt anxious, but once her singing started, “I felt the confidence in me and got excited.”

“I love singing, I think I was born to be a singer,” said Tangaina.

Apii Nikao student Toto Tiaore was the only male artist in the song quest and was excited to sing again, having participated in the event last year.

His song of choice was ‘E tai Roimata noku’. Tiaore loves the lyrics of the song.

“Singing makes me feel good and when I’m bored, I just sing.”

The winner of the 11-year-old section Apii Avarua’s Year 6 student Ake Tuakana signed up for the first time for the experience.

Ake said she was worried and scared standing on stage, “but I kept going.”

‘Akakino’ by Kutia Tuteru, was also a song Ake’s father Ngarangi Junior Tuakana had sung for an occasion. Her uncle Tuaine Unuia, a composer and musician, assisted with her vocals.

Singers and musicians Kutia Tuteru and Tina Koronui-Herman, members of the Cook Islands Music Association, helped prepare the students for the show.

“Some of the kids were shy, they weren’t used to the microphone, but on that night they all proved themselves, they didn’t make many mistakes and they carried on singing, I’m very proud of them all,” Tuteru said.

He acknowledged there were moments of frustration.

“It wasn’t an easy job for us, it was very trying at times even on the last week and on the night with some of the children’s scripts … But it was well worth it, what a great night to see the kids, their parents, families and the schools proudly come out in full support. These kids are our future singers.”

Koronui-Herman was happy to see the effort and performances, “we did panic a bit at the rehearsals, but on the night, wow, the kids were great. We were so proud of them”.

“We would like to encourage more boys to take part next year, seeing as there was only one male who sang; the girls are well represented.

“This song quest is not for us, it’s for our kids, we want to push and support our young ones for the future.”

Judges on the night were Tuaine (Katu) Teiti, Curly George Taripo and Teata Nga Moeara

Cook Islands Music Association secretary Nga Teao-Papatua was thankful to the volunteers, the Ministry of Culture for $3500 and the individual sponsors.

Teao-Papatua is calling on anyone who wants to join the organisation to contact her. “Especially to formers winners, now is the time to give back and help others, come and give a hand to develop music and songs of our nation.”

The next event Te Mire Atu (composers) will be held on March 19, 2021.


Age group 8 years: 1st Te Ra Rongo;  2nd Eileen Akai; 3rd Moetauia Mataroa. Age group 9 years: 1st Alice Apera; 2nd Peipai Katoa; 3rd loata Ritova. Age group 10 years: 1st Eitia Taylor; 2nd Katarina Brider; 3rd Hanalei Kauvai. Age group 11 years: 1st Ake Tuakana; 2nd Lahaina Henry; 3rd Toto Tiaore. Age group 12 years: 1st Ngamarae Tangaina; 2nd Tarita Thomson; 3rd Lupelause Soatini. Age group 13 years: 1st Naomi Taringa; 2nd Ngametua Terepita; 3rd Felisita Fonolito. Best costume Michelle Williams; Most entertaining Eitia Taylor; Best presentation Ake Tuakana; Best Diction Tarita Thomson; Non-Cook Islander singing in Cook Islands Maori, Loata Ritova from Apii Akatemia.