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Mangaia 200 years of Gospel celebrations embraces island

Tuesday 6 February 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Church Talk, Features, Local, National, Outer Islands


Mangaia 200 years of Gospel celebrations embraces island
The Stringband practising the theme song for the Mangaia 200 Years Gospel Celebrations. PC: Anaseini Pokino 24020233

The colossal amount of around $1 million has been raised for the island of Mangaia’s Te Arikianga o te Evangelia, the Arrival of the Gospel Bicentennial commemoration festivities that will be held this coming June.

These funds are made possible by the kind donations from generous Mangaians living in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia – where over $700,000 was raised.

“I commend our people in New Zealand and Australia for providing this financial support,” said the island’s Numangatini Ariki, Tangitamaiti Tereapii.

Numangatini Tangitamaiti Ariki was accompanied by the Ui Rangatira, Mayor, Kavana and several senior officials from Mangaia on his fundraising trip overseas over the past two years to seek funds.

Rather than visit the churches, the fundraising group visited the Mangaia communities who were touched by the presence of their Ariki and Aronga Mana from the home land.

Once people knew that their donations would help Mangaians at home, people started something good for the future of the island people, eagerly donating their money into the kiti, to help improve the lives of their people, he said.

He explained that the money raised would be distributed to all the Puna on Mangaia to help renovate or upgrade their respective facilities and halls for future use, and not for food.

The Mangaia Bicentennial committee members. From Left: Poroa Arokapiti, Tangimama Harry, Numangatini Tangitamaiti Ariki and Taoi Nooroa. PC: Anaseini Pokino/24020230

All halls were allocated NZ$20,000 to support their renovation process.

Mangaia is currently undergoing some phases of the facelift programme.

Numangatini Tangitamaiti Ariki said that the council and committee are well aware that “leftover money will be set aside to start a Mangaia Island Investment Fund for future developments.”

Money has also been set aside for the Aronga Mana to run programmes for their people.

“Mangaia has been able to undergo a facelift because of these Bicentennial celebrations.

“This celebration is both a joyous learning experience and one that will leave Mangaia more developed than yesterday,” he said.

Employment is on the rise as people are working on the new developments.

At present workers are clearing and building monuments on the marae to mark the historic event that will also become a tourist attraction.

In the past fortnight, 736 people made up of 26 groups confirmed that they will be joining the celebrations.

The largest group of 85 will be flying in from Wellington, New Zealand.

A group from Papua New Guinea will also be part of the festivities.

With a population of about 500 (2016 census) a celebration of this size comes with its challenges.

“One of the biggest challenges we are facing right now is  transportation to bring groups to Mangaia, said Numangatini Tangitamaiti Ariki.

He said that 50 flights had recently been confirmed by Air Rarotonga, however, there were more groups on the waiting list, and some have had to cancel because they would have had to travel a month earlier.

With only 20 weeks to go before the official opening, he is confident in his people and that together they will host a successful commemoration.

“We honour God for allowing us to move with the preparations with the Mangaian people owning the work,” he said.

“These celebrations will also have a competitive edge since it is celebration by all the people of Mangaia,” and he encourages Mangaians to take ownership of it.

The theme for the Bicentennial ‘Jesus is the living Gospel for Mangaia’ is “pivotal in marking and commemorating” the occasion.

“It marks the transformation of the lives of our people from darkness to light in the past 200 hundred years. We are united as one,” he said.

The theme song for the Bicentennial is progressing and soon more key players like Tauranga Vananga and musicians will come together, ready for the production.

“This celebration is not for any specific Christian denomination, but for the island of Mangaia and our theme highlights that key goal – that it is about Jesus as a living gospel for Mangaia,” said Numangatini Tangitamaiti Ariki.

“Whichever Christian denomination you belong to, this is for all of you.

“The committee has planned the programme and activities in such a way that all Mangaians will be able to celebrate.

“I don’t want our people to be busy in the kitchen, I want them to be a part of the celebration so that they can know and experience the real essence of Christianity for Mangaia, and how it has changed our lifestyle in Mangaia,” he said.

People are on the move planting, cleaning, clearing overgrown bush, mobilising resources to ensure that everything is in place for the big week.

Root crops such as taro, tarutarua, yam, maniota and banana were already been planted last year.

Kids ion Mangaia help out with painting in their community for the upcoming 200 years Arrival of the Gospel celebrations. PC: Anaseini Pokino 24020237

There is also a raui (conservation plan) in place for seafood which includes fish and paua.

A beautification programme, the construction of a tent like arena is currently underway at the Tavaenga Tennis hard court at the corner of the Oneroa field, next to Babe’s Shop.

Numangatini Tangitamaiti Ariki said he would like this arena to be named during the celebrations, he believes the arena will also be very useful in hosting other events in the future.

Like the rest of the Pa Enua, shipping goods and resources to Mangaia has been a challenge, as well as the Water Watch Alert issued for Cook Islands.

He said: “Hopefully, through prayer and fasting – we will have a good downpour within the next remaining months.”

Help for the community is available through the Mangaia Bicentennial Committee.

“Spread the word and talk to your Kavana and Rangatira,” Numangatini Tangitamaiti Ariki added.

Pastor Michael Papatua, the accommodation manager acknowledged the effort from each Puna in upgrading their meeting houses.

“Most of the accommodation places are now being refurbished as well as private lodgings to be ready before June,” said Papatua.

“Beds are limited so we are urging people to confirm as soon as possible, we need the numbers so we can provide a place for people to sleep,” he said.

The Mangaia Bicentennial Committee is made up of members of the Aronga Mana, the Religious Advisory Council (RAC) and the island council who look after the following key preparatory departments: Infrastructure, Accommodation, Protocol, Food and Catering, Security and Storage.

Chairman - Numangatini Tangitamaiti Ariki, Secretary - Tangimama Harry, Treasurer - Taoi Nooroa, Assistants - Poroa Arokapiti and Ngametua Pokino.