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11 November 2022

Fish, feast, and fun: Traditional event brings Pukapuka together

Saturday 16 March 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National, Outer Islands

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Fish, feast, and fun: Traditional event brings Pukapuka together
The Kavekave fishing competition in Pukapuka landed an abundance of tuna. TAKAVE KOREE/24051522

A two-day traditional fishing competition on Pukapuka island saw villagers compete and celebrate with a community feast.

The Kavekave two-day fishing competition on the island of Pukapuka reeled in a massive haul of 291 fish this week.

Pukapuka, one of the most remote islands of the Cook Islands group, is steeped in its ancient culture and boasts a distinct language developed over many centuries.

Known within the Cook Islands for having an “intact traditional conservation system”, this northern group island is home to three villages: Yato, Roto, and Ngake.

The village of Roto is further divided into two districts: Tawa-Lalo (encompassing parts of Yato and Roto) and Tawa-Ngake (encompassing parts of Roto and Ngake).

On Tuesday, fishermen from Tawa-Ngake and Tawa-Lalo set sail, battling for bragging rights for the most fish caught using traditional methods like “pakeke” (stone dropper hand line) and “takayeu” (trolling).

Tawa-Ngake took the lead on day one with 91 fish, while Tawa-Lalo followed closely with 68. Day two saw a comeback from Tawa-Lalo with 70 fish caught, while Tawa-Ngake reeled in 62.

Students from Niua School participated in the event, recording data on the fish species as the boats returned to shore.

The celebratory “food sharing” took place on the third day, with fish, nu, and taro being shared amongst the community.

The successful Kavekave culminated with singing and traditional performances of Makomako (chant) and Patautau by Tawa-Ngake and Tawa-Lalo.

Kolee Tinga, Pukapuka’s TV, radio operator, and researcher, provided an overview of the Kavekave competition:

Ko teia event, kare i te mea ou, e peu mei te tuatau taito mai.

Ko te rauka anga mai o teia ingoa nei e Kavekave, koia oki, ko te tuanga a te tāne ka apai, e te tuanga ta te vaine ka apai.

Ko ta te tāne tuanga ka apai, koia oki ko te ika e te nū.

Ko ta  te vaine tuanga ka apai e taro.

Na te oire nana ka host i teia akakoroanga e Kavekave e akataka eaa te tunu o te taro ka tano nō te reira Kavekave.

Teia te au tunu kai no te taro (wāwā) no au akakoroanga Kavekave: olo wāwā, mawu wāwā, ipu koti, likoliko, wāwā patupatu, wāwā pakapaka.

Ko te tuanga tautai i reira a te tāne kua akataka ei tuanga tārērē (fishing competition).

E rua tuanga tautai tei akatakaia no te tārērē: Pakeke (stone dropper hand line), Takayeu (trolling).

E rua rā i akatakaia nō teia tuanga tārērē.

Ora akamata 5:00am, ora akaoti 6:00pm.

I teia mataiti 2024: Te rā mua, Tawa Ngake - 91, Tawa Lalo 68. Te rua o te rā, Tawa Ngake - 62, Tawa Lalo - 70. Katoatoa o nga rā e rua, Tawa Ngake - 153, Tawa Lalo - 138. Kua peke te rē ki te Tawa Ngake i teia mataiti.

Te toru o te rā, ko te rā ia e tua ei te kai a te tāne e te vaine (Kavekave - Food Sharing).

Pera te tuanga oronga anga rē i muri ake, e te au tamataora a te tua i rē.

Ko te au ika ka akatikaia no te tārērē: Tuna species, skipjack, wahoo, marlin species, mahimahi, kingfish, dogtooth, paracuda.

  • Melina Etches/Kolee Tinga - Pukapuka