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Traditional chants and languages get a boost from local Arts Trust

Thursday 23 May 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, Features, National


Traditional chants and languages  get a boost from local Arts Trust
Vania Kenning Kauraka-Tangaroa, project manager of Te Rito O Taku Peu Tupuna Trust, and Minister Tingika Elikana, a representative of Te Papa Aliki o Te Ulu o Te Watu project, sign grant agreement. MELINA ETCHES/24051311

The preservation of Cook Islands cultural heritage and identity is a top priority for passionate and dedicated Cook Islanders who are committed to safeguarding customs and arts for future generations.

Te Rito O Taku Peu Tupuna Trust, the Cook Islands Traditional Arts Trust, says the $78,500 in grants to eight recipients earlier this month is their commitment to preserving the cultural heritage of the country.

Te Papa Aliki o Te Ulu o Te Watu project, represented by Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Tingika Elikana and Pukapuka executive officer Pio Ravarua, was one of the successful applicants.

This project focuses on the preservation of Pukapuka’s traditional chants and songs.

At the signing of the grant agreement, Elikana and Ravarua performed a stirring rendition of one of their traditional chants.

Elikana said their traditional chants and songs prompted him through the support of the traditional leaders of Pukapuka Te Papa Aliki o Te Ulu o Te Watu “to capture it in digital form and transform it into a medium where people can actually see it and verbalise it…”

“Without language and without culture there is no identity,” he said.

The funds will go towards purchasing the necessary equipment to document the traditional chants and songs from Pukapuka/Nassau from their elders, who hold this valuable knowledge and can provide context and meaning to their arts.

Another recipient, Tamariki Apii Kūki ʻĀirani (TAKA) Trust, was represented by its board of trustee members Chiavanni Le’Mon and chairman Mario Caffery.

TAKA’s vision is to empower, and strengthen the children of the Cook Islands and maintain the country’s cultural values

A first of its kind on the island, TAKA’s project “Takitumu Punanga Reo” is to establish Rarotonga’s first total immersion in Māori Kūki ʻĀirani Daycare Centre.

The objective is the sustainable preservation of Cook Islands culture and language.

This project is a collaborative effort with Pa Marie Upokotini Ariki. The initiative’s opening ceremony will be held at Pa Ariki’s Palace, Mata Enua in Turangi

TAKA will focus on establishing the Māori Kūki ʻĀirani Daycare Centre in Vaka Takitumu with the prospects of branching out in Vaka Puaikura and Vaka Te Au O Tonga.

The Māori Kūki ʻĀirani Daycare concept was inspired by Aotearoa New Zealand’s Aotearoa Kohanga Reo framework.

The project aims to integrate with government infrastructure for ongoing support, ensuring affordability and accessibility for participants, while still offering fair staff remuneration

Te Rito O Taku Peu Tupuna was established in 2020 and is funded by CIC Ocean Research, a Cook Islands-based seabed minerals exploration company.