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Atiu’s Gospel : Bicentennial celebrations witness harmonious blend of tradition, faith

Thursday 20 July 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Church Talk, Features, National, Outer Islands


Atiu’s Gospel : Bicentennial celebrations witness  harmonious blend of tradition, faith
The Atiu Brisbane group from Australia at Te Arikianga o te Evangelia 200 year anniversary celebrations on Atiu. From Left: Frances Ponia, Evelyn Takairangi Obeda, Teremoana Ngametua Kae (Upoko Ranuinui), Athena Porio Touna, Rongomatane Nicholas Ariki, Sharon Williams. In front: Aketua Teariki Porio. SUPPLIED/23071911

Before the break of dawn, the island of Atiu or Enuamanu rose to the drums of the tangi kaara signalling the beginning of the official ceremonial events to commemorate the 200-year anniversary of Te Arikianga o te Evangelia, the arrival of Christianity in 1823.

The tangi kaara continued in the villages, te au tapere of Tengatangi, Areora, Ngatiarua, Mapumai and Teenui.

John Williams of the London Missionary Society (LMS) landed on Enuamanu 200 years ago, bringing messages of hope, faith and the Gospel.

Rongomatane Ariki was the first to convert to Christianity when he embraced the religion and integrated it into their way of life, marking a significant turning point in the island’s history.

Despite the passage of time, the people of Enuamanu including the rest of the Cook Islands, continue to preserve their traditional customs and values while simultaneously cherishing the teachings of the Gospel.

The Bicentennial anniversary celebrations on Atiu have been carefully planned to pay tribute and praise to this harmonious blend of tradition and faith.

The visiting Atiu Enuamanu Nui Maruarua -O- Queensland Inc. group from Brisbane, Australia joined in the celebrations of the Bicentennial festivities and are being hosted at Te Kura Kava meeting house in Teenui.

Teremoana Ngametua, president of the group, said: “It is good to come back home for such a special occasion which we have planned for since last year.”

“Seventeen of us are here to witness this wonderful historical occasion, and we would like to acknowledge the people, our hosts for their warm hospitality.”

The special church service conducted by Atiu’s resident Orometua Reverend Yakilia Vailoa was held at the Ziona Tapu Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC). Orometua Ngateitei (president of the CICC) Reverend Ngametua Moutaiki was the keynote speaker.

Traditional chiefs, Kaumaiti Nui Tou Travel Ariki, Pa Marie Ariki, Tinomana Tokerau Ariki, Numangatini Tangi Ariki, Tamatoa Teao Ariki, Parurangi Ariki, other Ariki and traditional title holders attended the event. The King’s representative Sir Tom Marsters and Lady Marsters also witnessed the celebrations.