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Strumming the heartstrings

Saturday 23 July 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, National

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Strumming the heartstrings
Valu Katia (left) and Billy William look forward to strumming ukuleles in the String Band competition. Photo: Melina Etches/22072220

Island string bands are not about harmonious pitch perfect songs – it’s about singing loud, joyously and expressively straight from the heart, radiating emotions to the audience.

This afternoon people will get a chance to witness that feeling as some of the top local string bands will take the stage at Rarotonga’s first string band competition hosted by the Cook Islands Game Fishing Club in Tupapa.

No electrical plug in instruments are permitted, instead the usual guitar, ukuleles, spoons, jandals and buckets are expected to be used by the participating teams.

Club president Sharon William said: “This event has been a long time coming.”

“Our usual Friday night string band is popular with locals and visitors, so we wanted to create an event to encourage our young ones to get involved in learning, singing and playing instruments and to keep the Maori songs alive.

“We are hoping to host this event annually.”

Each group is required to sing two Maori songs, one connected to the theme of the event – Moana (ocean) – and the other a song of their choice.

The string band competition will be judged on: 40 per cent strings “te akatangiia”, 30 per cent singing “te imene’anga”, 20 per cent costume rakei and 10 per cent audience reaction.

String band teams competing are: Strings of Mauke, Kimi Ravenga Beats, Atiu Tumu, Vitiongo String Band and Te Merio o te Moana.