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Akava’ine to take centre stage as Miss Thunderhips strikes back!

Thursday 18 April 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, Entertainment, National


Akava’ine to take centre stage as Miss Thunderhips strikes back!
Tatryanna Utanga is the reigning Miss Thunderhips champion. She will be taking the stage on Friday night in the popular dance competition. SUPPLIED/24041701

After a decade-long break, the electrifying Miss Thunderhips dance competition is back with a thunderous bang and taking to the stage tomorrow night at Te Are Kariori Domes for the Anuanua festival celebrations.

Te Tiare Association, in collaboration with Anuanua, is thrilled to announce the relaunch of this popular dance event that is exclusive to “akava’ine” contestants.

The theme for this year’s competition is “Noou, noku e no tatou – An inclusive Cook Islands”.

Tatryanna Utanga, the current holder of the Miss Thunderhips title and the president of Te Tiare Association, is extremely proud of the efforts that the executive committee has put into the event to ensure its success.

Utanga expressed her thoughts on this unique cultural dance contest.

“In an inclusive Cook Islands, I feel a profound sense of belonging and acceptance as an LGBT individual,” said Utanga.

“Here, my identity is not just tolerated but celebrated as an integral part of our rich cultural tapestry.”

Miss Thunderhips is renowned for showcasing amazing Cook Islands dancing skills, and vibrant costumes and celebrating the beauty and talent of its participants.

This year’s event is guaranteed to be bigger and better and will feature talented performances and stunning displays by six contestants from Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and the Cook Islands.

The contestants are Aqu Kajika, Briannah Jewels, Dean Kapi-Tangata, Jaymee Lee Perez, Matty Matangi, and Neiomi Dash.

Four categories will be judged including Eleganza Extravaganza Mu’umu’u, Slow Beat, Fast Beat, and Best Costume.

Each category will be judged by “local titans in the culture scene” – Mona Taio, Uirangi Bishop, Makai Savage, Tupa Tupa, and Anna Savage.

According to the organisers, Miss Thunderhips is a safe space where akava’ine can present themselves on stage in front of an audience and showcase their pride and talent for their culture and be empowered to be their authentic self.

Utanga says community support networks and advocacy groups provide a safe space to connect with others who share similar experiences.

“In the Cook Islands, diversity is not just accepted; it is celebrated as an essential part of what makes us strong and resilient as a nation.

“Here I am valued for my uniqueness, and I can thrive as a cherished member of our inclusive society.”

The “spectacular show” starts at 6pm. General admission tickets are only $20 and VIP tickets are priced at $70 which includes a delicious buffet dinner and preferential seating before the show. For more information, contact 76401.

A livestream of the event will also be made available.

Te Tiare Association would like to acknowledge and thank their generous sponsors: New Zealand High Commission, UNDP, Manea Room, Rarotonga Rentals, Ora Partners, Vonnias, and Vodafone Cook Islands.