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30 November 2020

From one generation to the next: Rarotonga prepares for a historic investiture

Thursday 19 November 2020 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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From one generation to the next: Rarotonga prepares for a historic investiture
The Vakatini family will welcome the public for the investiture of Makea Vakatini Phillip Ngamatoa Ariki at the Taurangamanu Vakatini Palace grounds on Friday. (PHOTO: MELINA ETCHES) 20111810.

With preparations underway for a historic day, a protest is expected from the Te Ora Rangatira line during the investiture of Makea Vakatini Phillip Ngamatoa Ariki in Tupapa on Friday.

The akamarokura’anga of Makea Vakatini Phillip Ngamatoa Ariki, when he will be adorned with traditional clothing, will be held at the Taurangamanu Vakatini Palace grounds at Tupapa, tomorrow morning.

His traditional tapa attire that has taken some time to prepare, was created by the people of Atiu.

Makea Vakatini Phillip Ngamatoa Ariki bit the ear of a pig and was anointed the title at the graveside of his late father Makea Vakatini Joseph Tepo Ariki’s burial on July 20, 2020.

The historic event on Friday is well prepared for, the kopu ariki and four of the five rangatira families will be present to support the occasion.

Although a protest is expected from the Te Ora Rangatira line during tomorrow’s ceremony, the family will acknowledge their protest with an appropriate response, as part of the traditional procedures, and will continue with the ceremonial procedures.

Tiori Rangatira Nooroa Teina is excited to witness his third Makea Vakatini Ariki ceremonial investiture ceremony.

He was present at the investiture of Makea Vakatini Ina Ariki in June 1986 and Makea Vakatini Joseph Tepo Ariki in 1997.

Tiori Rangatira has held his title since 1986, he is responsible for the “pure kai” - which is controlling the Vakatini Ariki’s kaikais or feasts.

At the akamarokura’anga, he will be the first to dress the Ariki, with the other rangatira.

A “ruru” (belt) will represent holding the family and the Ui Rangatira together; the “tairiiri” (fan) represents the whole family – “for no one to be left out in the cold, to keep the peace or moderate or calm situations”.

The kakau (clothes) is to keep the Ariki warm and protected day and night.

Renovations at Taurangamanu Vakatini Palace grounds have also taken place over the past few weeks.

Itaaka Rangatira Meleaone Tumii congratulates Makea Vakatini Phillip Ngamatoa Ariki Phillip Vakatini on his initial investiture in July. (PHOTO: MELINA ETCHES) 20072025

The tribe have removed the previous roadside hedge, replacing it with the rocks that represent the kopu tangata of each tribe.

“It looks more alive now and inviting,” said Tiori Rangatira.

The previous marae was also revamped. The tapu or mana of the original marae at the front of the Palace was lifted by the orometua (Church minister) to enable renovations to start.

Work was supervised and carried out by Minister George Angene and Taoro Brown.

Tiori Rangatira is happy with the job well done.

New stones were placed and the marae was completed on Monday when it was blessed “akatapu” with its new name “Marae Maraerenga O Vakatini”.

The investiture of Maru Willie as Te Po Rangatira (current holder Tepaeru Maevarau Willie, will pass onto her son Maru) and Meleaone Tumii with the Itaaka Rangatira will also be held on the day. Makea Vakatini Phillip Ngamatoa Ariki will conduct their akamarokura’anga.

Tiori Rangatira acknowledged the family who is objecting the investiture. “I’m sad that the other line of the families are not with us.”

“We went through courts in the 1980’s, the decision from the court then was, that the title is ours.”

Tiori Rangatira Nooroa Teina will attend his third Makea Vakatini Ariki investiture. (PHOTO: MELINA ETCHES) 20111808.

Tiori Rangatira said he approached the family to attend the occasion and “to work together with us, but, no …”

However, he said protests were part of the process. “It’s normal; and after the formalities we would like for them to join us and have a meal peacefully, regardless of the problems.”

“They are people we will see every day in our lives, they will always be part of us, they are Vakatini too.”

The event will also be an emotional one for him.

“This will be the third and the last Makea Vakatini investiture I will be here to witness, I’m 65 years old now.

“It has been an interesting journey, we’ve had the ups and downs, court cases, you argue, you cry, you laugh and smile; it’s been a mixture of everything.”

Te Ara Rangatira Prime Minister Mark Brown also looks forward to the big event when the tribe will come together to celebrate.

“Our traditions and culture is what makes us unique; it’s our culture it’s our identity of who we are,” Brown said.

“There is a responsibility to uphold our traditions with the title, and the responsibility to pass on these traditions to the next generations.”

A private unveiling ceremony for the late Makea Vakatini Joseph Tepo Ariki will be held in the early morning.

The investiture will start at 10am, members of the public are welcome to witness the event.