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Strings of Maute hits the right cord

Tuesday 26 July 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Strings of Maute hits the right cord
Te Merio o te Moana string band - Engia Baxter, Rouru Motu, Atingata Tereu, Nga Tangimataiti and Rio Teika. Photo: MELINA ETCHES/22072512

Eight teams performed in the first Cook Islands Game Fishing Club (CIGFC) string band competition on Saturday which saw Strings of Maute representing the island of Atiu taking home the top prize.

Rangi Tutaka-Tatuava, a music composer from Atiu, wrote a special song – Moana Nui to celebrate the ocean theme of the event – for the winning team.

Tutaka-Tatuava said she was inspired by Genesis (“In the Beginning”), the first book of the Bible which narrates the primeval history of the world.

The song tells the story of the “beginning” when God created the earth and the moana, the blessings of kai moana and how the “tupuna” would “raui” to help conserve for future generations.

“Raui is a cultural practice which we still do today which was passed to us from our tupuna, and it’s something we should and need to continue,” Tutaka-Tatuava said.

She wrote the song over four nights waking in the wee hours of morning from 1am writing until 3am “to get the right words”.

The Strings of Maute team made up of June Punua, Mareva Punua, Marc Punua, Rimamotu Tutaka, Sonia Rakei and Dan Taokia had time for just one rehearsal for the event and to learn their new song.

In a “last minute” effort getting a string band together, Te Merio o te Moana comprising Engia Baxter, Rouru Motu, Atingata Tereu, Nga Tangimataiti and Rio Teika sang and strummed comfortably placing second.

The winning Strings of Maute string band – June Punua, Mareva Punua, Marc Punua, Rimamotu Tutaka, Sonia Rakei and Dan Taokia represented the island of Atiu, with composer Rangi Tutaka-Tatuava (middle). Photo: MELINA ETCHES/22072401

Team leader Engia Baxter said: “We had a good time and enjoyed ourselves and we would like to thank Cook Islands Game Fishing Club for the hosting and sponsoring the event.”

The Nga Oire e Rua string band made up of Kirikava Tutavake, Lennua Williams, Fana Ivilangi and Oirua Rasmusssen placed third. The group represented the two villages of Tetautua and Omoka from their home island of Penrhyn.

Team leader Kirikava Tutavake, who is also a popular fisherman, said: “We all love our culture, singing and playing in the string band event and we had a good time.”

The team sang two songs, Ngavaka e hitu e tei tere Mai and Noho io manenga mate vahine tau pare Mataora, in Saturday’s competition. They look forward to participating in the event next year.

The Cook Islands Game Fishing Club would like to thank the judges Toka, Piritau Nga, the Secretary of Tauranga Vananga Anthony Turua and the emcees Naomi Manavakai and Paiere Tangata.

Lawrencia William, the Masters Dancer of the Year champion, made a special appearance performing her winning solo dance to the song she composed.

William also has close ties to the Fishing Club – her father Papa Tekake William was one of the original founding members.