Traditional Cook Islands Chiefs Apologize For 2008 Proclamation

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House of Ariki members regret joining sovereignty movement

By Matariki Wilson

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, July 3, 2014) – Tomorrow marks the third Ui Ariki Day celebrations for traditional leaders, but before the singing and revelry, the House of Ariki will be consolidating its members at a special apology and swearing-in ceremony today.

At Government House this morning, Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters will receive an apology by Te Maeva Tararo Ariki of Mauke.

Te Maeva Tararo Ariki will apologise to the Head of State for his involvement in the 2008 proclamation led by New Zealand Maori sovereignty campaigner Bruce Ruatapu Mita.

At the time, Mita managed to get the support of many of the ui ariki in an attempt to revert the Cook Islands back to customary law.

The campaign failed in its objectives and since then, most of the ui ariki that supported Mita have apologised for the part they played in the campaign and have been sworn back into the House of Ariki.

Te Maeva Tararo Ariki is among a small group of traditional chiefs to complete this process.

After the apology, Te Maeva Tararo Ariki is set to be sworn back into the House of Ariki along with fellow traditional chiefs Teurukura Makirau Ariki, Tokerau Tinomana Ariki and Trainee Te Fakaheo Ariki.

House of Ariki clerk Puna Rakanui explains that they were in the process of reviewing the cases of Tokerau Tinomana Ariki and Trainee Te Fakaheo Ariki and their inclusion in today’s programme was tentative.

Rakanui explains that today’s programme is all about consolidating the members of the House of Ariki as there have been many changes to various traditional titles and their holders.

Today’s programme will end with a reception at the House of Ariki compound at Atupare Marae in Arorangi where Friday’s Ui Ariki Day celebrations will begin.

Traditional customs will dictate Friday’s Ui Ariki day commemorations to be hosted by the Makea Nui, and Makea Vakatini tribes of Vaka Te Au O Tonga.

Vaka Te Au O Tonga will hold the Ui Ariki day commemorations at the National Auditorium, however the day’s programme will begin at the House of Ariki compound and Atupare Marae in Vaka Puaikura.

While the Makea Nui and Makea Vakatini tribe gather and wait at the auditorium, remaining traditional leaders will gather at Atupare Marae.

At Atupare Marae, traditional leaders will sit at their assigned stone seats on the marae itself and wait for the messenger (kave kura) from Makea Nui and Makea Vakatini inviting them to Vaka Te Au O Tonga for the Ui Ariki celebrations.

The kave kura process of Friday’s programme is set to begin at 9am – the same time the public is invited to gather at the National Auditorium.

Religious and government leaders will also be part of today’s commemorations and will be all at the auditorium when the motorcade of ui ariki travelling from Atupare Marae arrive at Makea Vakatini’s compound at 10.30am.

The traditional leaders will be challenged and welcomed at the Vakatini palace and walk to the Are Karioi Nui for the remainder of the morning’s programme.

The final process of Friday’s programme will be the opening of the 45th annual general meeting of the House of Ariki before all are hosted to a kaikai by the host tribe of the Ui Ariki day commemorations.

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