Cul­ture cel­e­brated

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

Kia orana. It’s a big week for Palmer­ston North’s Cook Is­land com­mu­nity.

Te Reo Kuki Ai­raini, or Cook Is­land Lan­guage Week is un­der way, cul­mi­nat­ing in a com­mu­nity cel­e­bra­tion on Satur­day with Te Maeva Nui - lit­er­ally ‘the big cul­tural cel­e­bra­tion’ - to mark Con­sti­tu­tion Day - the Cook Is­land equiv­a­lent of in­de­pen­dence day.

The com­mu­nity’s Maruna Engu said the ac­tual day was Thurs­day, Au­gust 4, but the cel­e­bra­tions, part of Cook Is­land life since in­de­pen­dence was granted in 1965, tra­di­tion­ally took place over 10 days.

‘‘Te Reo week has been added, and on Thurs­day we have the launch of our play group, Kia Orana Mokop­una, be­tween 10am and mid­day at the Pasi­fika Cen­tre at Bill Brown Park.’’

In the evening, the Have­lock Ave cen­tre is open for tra­di­tional quilt­ing, or tivae­vae, as well as lan­guage, his­tory, games, singing and drum­ming work­shops.

The Con­sti­tu­tion Day din­ner, con­cert and party takes place at the same venue on Satur­day from 6.45pm, with par­tic­i­pants asked to bring along food.

‘‘We want to do some­thing for the Cook Is­land peo­ple who live in Manawatu, and this is a time to get ev­ery­one to­gether - es­pe­cially for the older folk. For the rest of us, it’s about re­con­nect­ing with our roots.’’

Engu was not sure how many Cook Is­landers lived locally, and hoped as many as pos­si­ble would at­tend.

‘‘It’s about the essence of the day - a gath­er­ing that gets that drum go­ing and then those hips swing­ing. It’s how we ex­press our­selves - the drums, the music, the hips and the legs.’’

Lan­guage classes started two months ago in an ef­fort to pass Cook Is­land te reo on to the next gen­er­a­tion. There are 10 con­so­nants in the Cook Is­land al­pha­bet, which un­like Maori, has a ‘v’, but no ‘h’ or ‘w’.

Cook Is­land com­mu­nity ad­vo­cate An­nie Scoon was hop­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties would be at­tended by Cook Is­land High Com­mis­sioner Te Re­moana Yala, who used to live in Palmer­ston North.

City Li­brary is also mark­ing Te Epetoma¯kiAoTeReoKu¯ irani with an evening cel­e­brat­ing Taku¯ Korero Taku¯ Peu (My lan­guage, my cul­ture) - an evening of dance, dis­plays and demon­stra­tions, food, music, and drums this Fri­day from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

‘‘It's... a gath­er­ing that gets that drum go­ing and then those hips swing­ing.’’ Maruna Engu

MUR­RAY WIL­SON/FAIRFAX NZ

Mak­ing prepa­ra­tions for Cook Is­land Lan­guage Week cel­e­bra­tions from left are Maruna Engu, Nooauri Mataora and Vee Vekene.

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