Dancing the Is­land con­nec­tion

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By CHAR­LIE MITCHELL

In­spir­ing teenagers to dance can be a tough task – but Tuaine- Nurse Ta­marua Ro­bati has taken that chal­lenge to the ex­treme.

He is us­ing dance to con­nect young Cook Is­lan­ders with their her­itage.

Ro­bati, who is part way through a 10-week dance res­i­dency with Pa­cific New Zealand, has been host­ing a se­ries of work­shops de­signed to help young Cook Is­lan­ders en­gage with their cul­ture.

‘‘ It’s fan­tas­tic. I’m re­ally en­joy­ing it,’’ he said. ‘‘ Stu­dents seem to en­joy it, be­cause they keep com­ing back.

‘‘It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for me to put some­thing back into the com­mu­nity, and use my ex­pe­ri­ence from hav­ing worked in this field for 20-plus years.’’

Ro­bati teaches through a con­cept called Puera (‘‘to bloom’’), a syn­the­sis of cul­ture, dance, spir­i­tu­al­ity, cos­tum­ing and mu­sic. He hopes Puera will help de­velop stu­dents’ ap­pre­ci­a­tion of their cul­ture more than tra­di­tional dance pro­grammes do.

‘‘I went to Polyfest last year, and saw a lack of ex­cite­ment in the stu­dents’ eyes and a lack of pride at be­long­ing to an eth­nic group.

‘‘We’re now look­ing at third and fourth gen­er­a­tion Cook Is­lan­ders, and my per­cep­tion is that they’re dis­con­nected from the home­land, so this is a way to re-con­nect them.’’

Ro­bati said he had al­ready seen a change in his stu­dents.

‘‘It’ll take the whole of the res­i­dency for Puera to get es­tab­lished. I re­ally don’t know if it will pick up a life of its own af­ter that, but I’d be ex­cited if it does.

‘‘I see [stu­dents] re­spond­ing re­ally well. I see ex­cite­ment in their par­ents, who sit and watch. That’s where I draw the en­cour­age­ment from.’’


Cul­ture through dance: Tuaine-Nurse Ta­marua Ro­bati is help­ing young Cook Is­land Maori dis­cover their her­itage.

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