Te Maeva Nui Celebrations- Cook Islands

The Te Maeva Nui celebrations on Rarotonga, Cook Islands, began last week and will continue to run for about nine days ending on August 6, 2016.

The Cook Islands Constitution Celebrations is the nation’s celebration of nationhood, self- government and independence. Held annually around the national day of 4th August since 1965, it is the one event that involves the whole country, all the islands, vaka, oire and tapere. Since 2001, it has been re-named as Te Maeva Nui, in recognition of the cultural basis upon which the event is based. It has also developed into an event with significant public participation and therefore economic activity, creating the environment and potential for investment and returns. The celebrations include a float parade & opening ceremony, international night, choir competition, island days and cultural performances.

Several Te Maeva Nui participants say they’re enjoying the spirit of sharing their culture and camaraderie among the teams and the 2016 festival already has an atmosphere of unity and joy.

The event typically starts with a colorful float parade along the main road of Avarua, on Rarotonga. Click here to view some pictures of the parade.


The cultural performances will feature original compositions, original choreography and original costumes, take place throughout the celebrations. In addition to the Imene Tuki  (known as the”hymn of grunts” which is a traditional hymn of the Cook Islands. It is unaccompanied singing noted for a drop in pitch at the end of phrases, and rhythmic nonsensical syllables, comparable to Scat singing. Similar nonsense syllables and improvisations are found in Tahitian Himene tarava) and Choir sections these performances display unique and vibrant performances in 4 categories:

  1. Ura Pau – Fast upbeat dance displaying stamina, creativity and endurance of the dance team to a composer rhythm of the drums.
  2. Kapa Rima – Slow pace item showcasing technique and grace in the hand movements of the dancers.
  3. Ute –Traditional chant, all performers sit in a U‐shaped formation with the women sitting down in the middle and men standing up around them.
  4. Pe’e ‐ Traditional chant performance showcasing the strength, courage and unity of the island performing.

All these performances portray a sense of Cook Islands Culture through the art of dance displaying strength, courage, uniqueness and many other traits that all Cook Islander possess.

Click here to access the official program.


About islandculturearchivalsupport

Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of records pertaining to the cultural identity of island peoples in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia whose national and public archives, libraries, cultural centers, and business organizations are underprivileged, underfunded, and understaffed. The specific purpose for which this nonprofit corporation was formed is to support the needs of these South Pacific cultural heritage institutions by helping to preserve and make accessible records created for business, accountability or cultural purposes. The organization will endeavor to add value by providing resources or volunteers to advise, train, and work among island residents to support their efforts in building their future and preserving their collective memory through the use of modern archival techniques.
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4 Responses to Te Maeva Nui Celebrations- Cook Islands

  1. Koro fred says:

    hiiiii wen doz 2017 Te Maeva Nui commence plz

  2. emily jim says:

    any background history on how it all began??

    • Here’s a little history of the festival:
      The former name of Constitution Celebrations was changed back around 1994 at the request of then prime minister, Sir Geoffrey Henry. “Government wanted a Maori translation for the Celebrations, something that would capture the essence of our annual festival and convey in our language that it is an event to celebrate self-governance and our Cook Islands culture. Te Maire Maeva Nui was first used, but was a bit of tongue twister and could be confused with Te Maire Nui, the 1992 Pacific Arts Festival held in Rarotonga, therefore the name was changed to Te Maeva Nui in 2001. Annual themes are based on clearly defined cultural themes for all teams to work with.

      Over the years these themes have changed to show the progression and development of Cook Islands culture captured in the original items performed by the teams. This began with the 2002 theme Te Kapuanga o Toku Enua e Toku Matakeinanga – The Origins of My Island and Tribal Heritage.

      Hope this helps…

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