The Cook Islands News reported that the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) in Hawaii has been working with the Cook Islands government and Church of Latter-day Saints leaders for the past year to showcase a group of 17 Cook Island Maori performers and cultural leaders during a six-week run from July 17 to August 24, 2017.
PCC senior manager William Mahoni, who has been coordinating logistics for the group’s appearance said they will perform each afternoon in a temporary mini-village near the canoe landing between the Hawaiian and Tahitian Villages, and several evenings each week in the gazebo at the PCC’s Hukilau Marketplace. “We have had a few small groups and special visitors from the Cook Islands over the years, but this will be the first time we will have a group stay for six weeks. We’re excited,” Mahoni said.
Mahoni, a New Zealand Maori, said the Cook Island Maori were particularly well known for their “symphony of drumming”. “The beats are very different from Tahitian, for example. When I spoke with the Tahitians recently, they were very excited to learn that the Cook Islanders are coming.”
In addition to the performances and crafts, Mahoni said group members will also talk about Cook Islands traditional medicine. “The group consists of five drummers, four female dancers, four male dancers, and two weavers, plus the group leaders,” he said.
Piltz Napa, an alumnus of BYU–Hawaii said Cook Islands deputy prime minister and Culture minister Teariki Heather was driving the appearance of the Cook Islands group at the center. Napa said Heather had held follow-up discussions with the presidents of PCC and BYU–Hawaii. They drew up a memorandum of understanding that the government would be a part of our coming here to showcase the Cook Islands culture. “The minister is very passionate about education and culture; and in partnership with BYUH and PCC, we hope to get opportunities for member and non-member students to come here on study-work scholarships.”
“With the Cook Islanders, we will see a culture that is similar, for example, to the Tahitians, but also unique in many ways,” Mahoni continued. “In another example, take a Cook Islander speaking Cook Island Maori and a Hawaiian from the privately-owned island of Niihau, and they’ll be able to understand each other.” The Niihau dialect of Hawaiian is considerably different from standard Hawaiian.
As with all Polynesian Cultural Center employees, the visiting Cook Islands group has agreed to abide by the PCC’s dress, grooming and behavior standards, and have participated in an abbreviated orientation program.
If you are going to be in Hawaii within the next several weeks, do not miss this event!