Cook Islands’ Te Maeva Nui returns to NZ

PHOTO: Supplied

The Cook Islands biggest cultural festival, Te Maeva Nui, returning to Auckland after it was cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2019, the event was held in Aotearoa for the first time in its more than 50-year history.

Organiser Kim Marsters said her team was optimistic the two-day festival would go ahead as scheduled in July.

Marsters said this year’s theme was ‘Resilience’ and was fitting as “Cook Islanders stand in unity to show their strength and withstand adversity”.

For the first time, seven Enua and Vaka were set to perform at Auckland’s Barfoot & Thompson Stadium on 23-24 July.

Marsters said over 1000 performers would represent their vaka, enua and village at the festival.

“There will be an array of beautiful vibrant costumes, jaw-dropping dancing, phenomenal traditional drumming, the marketplace, Cook Islands culinary treats and much more is on offer,” she said.

“We are very blessed and privileged to have the Te Maeva Nui Festival in Aotearoa New Zealand for the second time.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to bring family, friends, villages and the community together to embrace and uplift our culture through our language, song, dance performance, arts and crafts, fellowship and of course food.”

The festival’s director, Duane Wichman-Evans, said thousands of Cook Islanders were looking forward to the event.

PHOTO: Supplied

Wichman-Evans said the theme highlighted how the country had stood in unity and showed strength during adversity.

“We encourage building bridges to link our Cook Islands community in Aotearoa back to their homeland. For all our performers it is a place to stand proud and shine, and be part of their Vaka, Enua and villages.”

He said Te Maeva Nui was an opportunity for Cook Islanders and Pasifika in New Zealand to stand strong and reflect on their heritage, while paving the way for a better future.

“Many New Zealand-born Cook Islanders haven’t been to their motherland and don’t speak Cook Islands Maori. Now in rehearsals, the groups are learning the traditional art of costume designing, weaving costumes, drumming, composing, singing and song writing – language and culture at the forefront.

Marsters said tickets for the event will be available online from 10 April and at the Pasifika Festival in Western Springs, Auckland.