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‘World’s largest family reunion’ ends with joyous closing ceremony

Monday 17 June 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Culture, National, Regional


‘World’s largest family reunion’ ends with joyous closing ceremony
Team Cook Islands at the 13th FestPAC closing ceremony in Honolulu, Hawai’i last night. BYRON BROWN/24061613

After 10 days of culture, tradition, and kinship, the “world’s largest family reunion” and celebration of indigenous Pacific culture came to an end, with a poignant but low-key closing ceremony in Hawai’i, last night.

Chairman Kalani Ka'ana'ana welcomed the FestPAC delegates to Honolulu's convention centre for the final time, saying he was “filled with gratitude” for the “spirit that each of you have brought to the festival”.

He also reminded those in attendance of the vital role they can play in preserving Pacific culture and traditions.

“Let us not be the generation that are so awe-struck by our predecessors that we fail to add to the greatness of our line,” he said, borrowing from sentiments shared at a previous FestPAC.

“How do we make sure that we maintain the momentum we felt here, the unity we felt here, the aloha we felt here?

“We've laughed, we've cried, we've danced, we've sat, we've pretty much done it all. We've lived.”

Festival director Aaron J Sala told the crowd that before the festival began, 60,000-100,000 people were expected to engage with the event over the course of the 10 days.

“By day two of the festival, just at the convention centre, more than 100,000 people engaged with the festival,” he said.

The chair of the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture, Emile Kairua, invited everyone in attendance and all Pasifika people around the world to start planning their journey for FestPAC 14 to be held in New Caledonia in 2028.

“We will return to our home islands to replenish, to reload and to return to FestPAC 14,” said Kairua, the Secretary for Cook Islands Ministry of Cultural Development. “Let us all make the next family reunion in 2028 the biggest and the best.”

Meanwhile after two weeks of exhilarating performances, intricate artistry of skilled craft people, reconnecting with the Vaka Marumaru Atua crew, thought provoking symposiums, and making genuine connections with Pacific delegates, the first cohort of 23 exhausted members of Team Cook Islands returned home on Saturday night.

The team of artisans and performers boarded Hawai’i Airlines brimming with a renewed sense of pride and inspiration having represented and promoted the beloved Cook Islands with dedication and enthusiasm.

Leading the homebound delegation was Keu Mataroa, the Cook Islands New Zealand Consul General and his wife Tangi, who were both pleased and full of pride at the heartfelt commitment of the entire team.

Minister of Tauranga Vananga, George “Maggie” Angene received the team at Rarotonga Airport, which was followed by a prayer and brief closing remarks.

The rest of the Cook Islands FestPAC delegation who are still in Waikiki, will be returning home this coming Saturday.

  • ABC Pacific/Melina Etches