Wednesday 26 April 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, National
“I want to join this competition because it’s my culture,” said Pukerua, who will be competing in the junior division.
“I’m nervous but I’ve learnt how to dance and I’m going to do my best.”
The Apii Avarua student said he would like to encourage his friends to “join in as well to learn more about our culture and to get a prize”.
Pukerua is also passionate about art. Last year he was named the winning designer for the Cook Islands Games mascot competition “Echo the Gecko”.
His mother Merle Pukerua is passionate about culture and is a popular singer, performer and cultural artist. She is also the dance teacher at Tereora College.
“I love our culture and I want my son to experience, feel and know it as well,” said Merle.
Her son was raised in Aotearoa New Zealand by her Aunt and Uncle Mr and Mrs Ngatokoa Nikoro for nine years. He moved to Rarotonga to live with his mother last year.
“I think the fact that he’s here and he’s missed out on the cultural immersion we have here so I wanted him to experience it.
“For him it’s about feeling the stage and to see what it’s like performing in the dancer of the year competition.
“I want him to have that taste of his own culture and be proud of it. He’s still learning our Reo Maori and he’s getting there,” said Merle.
Merle says she appreciates the support from her sister Deborah Pukerua and her niece Shanice Nand helping out with the costume making and rehearsals for her son.
The Tauranga Vananga Ministry of Cultural Development Te Mire Ura Junior and Intermediate dance competition will be held at the Are Karioi (National Auditorium) starting at 7pm.
The competition will be livestreamed by sponsor Vodafone Cook Islands who with Tauranga Vananga are expecting to deliver a solid, quality show on the night.
To access the livestream, you must enter an account (or sign in) on their website www.culture.gov.ck. Visit the Ministry of Culture “Online Shop” and purchase an access link to “Te Mire Ura 2023 – Juniors & Intermediates”.
Purchasing access to the livestream has been put in place because of large number of people (especially from overseas) who were downloading the Rarotonga Schools culture festival for free, says Secretary of Cultural Development Anthony Turua.
“This is why we Tauranga Vananga put in the adverts during the schools culture livestream to stop people from downloading for free,” Turua said.
“People will be able to purchase the Rarotonga schools festival (shows) from the Ministry of Education, so the money from their own performances goes back to their own school.”
As of Monday, April 24, the tentative list of contestants for Thursday night were: Junior Female Section: Mere Felicity Perau - Araura enua, Raya Vainetutai - Mauke enua and Nukutere College, Aamire Meherio Teariki - Mitiaro enua, Hiriaterau Pitomaki - Vaka Puaikura and Maungaroa Academy. Junior Males: Francis Tuaua Cowan - Avarua School and Rarotonga, William Ahiao - Apii Avarua and Rarotonga, Boaza Manase Pukerua - Pukerua family and Manihiki henua, Peyroux Meti - Meti Family. Intermediate Female Section: Hauroarii Tonitara - Tongareva enua, Tarani Omai - Oire Nikao, Elizabeth Numanga - Mitiaro enua and Michaela Tangatakino - Mitiaro enua.