A graceful young dancer representing Oire Nikao in the float parade and Te Maeva Nui festival. Photo: MELINA ETCHES/22072916
Welcoming light rain cooled off the waiting audience and the float parade participants at the opening event of the 2022 Te Maeva Nui cultural festival yesterday.
Several of the floats demonstrated the making of and the ingredients of Vairakau Maori (traditional medicine), sharing their knowledge to the members of the public who gathered in numbers to witness the event.
The Tauranga Vananga (Ministry of Culture) theme for this year’s events is “Traditional Medicine of our Community and Island”.
Team Fiji made their traditional kava which was offered to Prime Minister Mark Brown and Kaumaiti Nui Tou Ariki. They both humbly accepted the Fijian traditional drink.
The Kapa Haka teams from Aotearoa New Zealand also entertained the crowd with their performances.
Each float appeared with energy, dance and song and had made a great effort in decorating their trucks and gathering people to take part which was appreciated.
The dampener of the day was the unnecessary long waits in between each float – trucks were made to wait out on the main road and therefore took several minutes after the performing floats to appear, taking up time.
Unfortunately, many of the crowd had left before the last ones came through. One of the float participants was “disappointed” at the lengthy time it took.
A disgruntled participant said: “All our hard work, effort and time to do our float was wasted, people had gone and there was no one waiting along the road in town, it just took too long.”
The float parade started with Prime Minister Brown lighting the cauldron to mark the official opening of Te Maeva Nui cultural festival 2022 which will coincide with the 57th year of self-government – Constitution Day – on Thursday, August 4.
Prior to the arrival of the annual float parade, Brown delivered the opening of his address in Reo Maori.
“Kia Orana, Turou oro mai, Te na roto nei iaku te reo maeva e te reo akararangi’anga no runga i to tatou Tumu Tapura no teia mataiti koia oki, Te Au Vairakau Tupuna a toku Matakei’nanga/Enua – Kia ‘akara’rangi, e kia maeva purua tatou i te kave’inga tiratiratu, ta tatou au vairakau tupuna ate au matakei’nanga i rave ite āriki’riki’anga i te rapakau atu i to tatou au kopu tangata.”
He extended warm regards to the people of the Cook Islands, extended family, friends and guests who are visiting our shores.
“We are glad to have you here to join in our celebrations and helping us to revive our country in these Covid-19 times,” said Brown.
Referring to the Tauranga Vananga (Ministry of Culture) theme for the year, Brown said it “recognises the value of our traditional medicine in maintaining healthy standards, using our traditional environment resources and sustaining a lifelong living.”
“Throughout these 57th Constitution celebrations, we honour and respect our traditional leaders who have articulated traditional medicine.
“These will be shown through our vibrant cultural performances by our cultural teams and the essence of taokotai’anga or togetherness.”
Reflecting on the year that was, Brown recognised that “the spirit of togetherness helped the country battle Covid-19, the same spirit that had everyone do their part to help one another”.
“When things were at the worst for our country that was when we saw the best in our people and as a people, we should be proud of what we have done to protect and serve our country.”
Brown expressed it is fitting to celebrate this year’s Maeva Nui in dedication of recognition of the traditional medicine and its support to the healthy living of our communities.
Echoing his message at the onset of Covid-19, he said: “Let us do the possible, let God do the impossible.”
“We are both grateful and humbled to have overcome the Covid-19 challenges in the face of this global tragedy.”
Vaine Nooana-Arioka, the managing director of the Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI) – the sponsor of the float parade – was also acknowledged, invited to dance and taste nu.