Te Maeva Nui happens once a year here in the Cooks, a celebration of all 15 Cook Islands where they come together and dance their butts off for constitution day – the day the Cooks became self-governing 48 years ago.
Luckily I get to attend events like this with my journalist husband, who gets VIP passes to the hottest events in Raro! This year was a more subdued affair apparently, with the government slashing funding to fly people in from the outer islands to take part in the celebrations. The week kicks off with a float parade through the main town, Avarua, followed by nightly performances at the national auditorium and the outer islands were still well represented with people who paid their own way to come over. Not only are the performances amazing, the entire grounds around the auditorium are set up with a marketplace of crafts from the outer islands during the daytime and food stalls at night.
The performances did not disappoint – the music is electric and the drums and singing are magnificent. Some tourists come exclusively for Te Maeva Nui celebrations. The theme this year was ‘My Culture and Heritage Shall Live’, all singing was in Maori and the costumes you see in the pictures are mostly handmade with materials from the dancers’ respective islands.
Now if only I could move my hips like these exotic island women could!