COOKS PREPARE FOR 40TH TE MAEVA NUI CELEBRATION

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By Tara Carr

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, June 3) – The customary first prize money of NZ$10,000 (US$7,100) will not be up for grabs at this year's Te Maeva Nui cultural competition, from July 29 through Aug. 7 in the Cook Islands.

Teams competing will face a number of changes and the money is one of them.

Ministry of cultural development secretary Sonny Williams announced last Monday that there would be changes to the format of the competition with a more celebratory tone to it.

The annual Te Maeva Nui Celebrations, once known as the Constitution Celebrations, began in 1965 to celebrate self-government in the Cook Islands. This year’s celebrations will coincide with the 40th anniversary of self-government in the Cooks.

Williams says that this year, each of the teams will have the opportunity to win the same maximum points and equal rewards in the competition. He says that, depending on sponsorship, he is estimating around NZ$4,000 to NZ$5,000 can be attained by each team.

A total of 13 cultural teams will be competing in this year's competition: Vaka Takitumu, Vaka Te Au-o-Tonga, Vaka Puaikura, Nikao Oire, Aitutaki, Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro, Atiu, Pukapuka, Manihiki, Penrhyn and defending champions Rakahanga.

In previous competitions, each of the teams competes in four sections - the ute, pe'e, action, song, and drum dance. However in this year's competition, Williams says that the teams will only perform three items in the cultural dance section "for lack of time".

The teams will also perform a choir and imene tuki item that is not judged as part of the competition.

The changes to the format, according to Williams, are part of the 'rescue operation' the ministry has been forced to undertake. However, teams will still be judged on their quality of presentation.

Each of the teams is restricted to having 50 members on stage at one time for safety reasons and stage limits as opposed to performing in an open field where the sky's the limit in numbers.

This year's Te Maeva Nui celebration is also the 40th anniversary of independence in the Cook Islands.

Williams says there has been a revamp of the draft programme originally put together by former culture minister Piho Rua.

He says that in effect the programme is back to normal, but condensed somewhat because of the shortness of time to prepare.

Preparations beginning for some teams on the island with Vaka Puaikura and Rakahanga calling their first meetings this week.

June 14, 2005

Cook Islands News: http://www.cinews.co.ck/index.htm

 

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