Bright cel­e­bra­tion

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - KAROLINE TUCKEY

De­spite the cold snap, a burst of trop­i­cal bright­ness lit up a pocket of Palmer­ston North on Fri­day, dur­ing a Cook Is­lands cul­tural per­for­mance.

The Taka Ko­rero Taka Peu, My Lan­guage My Cul­ture, con­cert cel­e­brated Te Reo Kuki Ai­raini, or Cook Is­land Lan­guage Week, which sur­rounds an­nual cel­e­bra­tions for Con­sti­tu­tion Day.

Per­for­mances in­cluded singing, mu­sic tra­di­tional danc­ing, ver­bal ex­changes, and were fol­lowed by a shared din­ner.

Ka­tru­lena Meti-Ni­cholas, 9, per­formed a hula dance she was taught by one of the com­mu­nity el­ders.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant be­cause it’s part of the cul­ture,’’ she said.

‘‘I like danc­ing be­cause I like the drums and danc­ing with my hips, and per­form­ing in front of peo­ple.’’

Hotepa Tonga Wil­liam said it was good to have chil­dren up danc­ing along­side the adults, and learn­ing their cul­ture.

‘‘I was ex­cited to dance be­cause I used to all the time back in the is­lands, and it’s good to keep our cul­ture alive and cel­e­brate the Cook Is­lands in New Zealand, so our lan­guage won’t dis­ap­pear.

‘‘For some of the kids it’s new for them, if they are born in New Zealand.’’

Palmer­ston North city coun­cil­lor Tangi Utikere, who has Cook Is­land her­itage, said con­certs like this are typ­i­cally very in­ter­gen­er­a­tional and in­clu­sive.

‘‘This week ac­knowl­edges that it’s the time of year when the Cook Is­lands’ cel­e­brates, ... it’s about tak­ing the op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate as a com­mu­nity.

‘‘We have Cook Is­land born, New Zealand born, and mem­bers of the Bhutanese and Maori and Samoan com­mu­ni­ties, it re­ally is a col­lec­tive mix.

‘‘The Cook Is­land com­mu­nity here [in Palmer­ston North] is very much in­ter­twined with each other, and ev­ery­one knows ev­ery­one.’’ In re­cent years there had been a resur­gence in in­ter­est in learn­ing about Cook Is­land her­itage among younger gen­er­a­tions liv­ing in New Zealand, he said.

‘‘His­tor­i­cally fam­i­lies have wanted their chil­dren in New Zealand to fo­cus on New Zealand ed­u­ca­tion, and the New Zealand way of life, and that’s come full cir­cle now.’’

‘‘Now schools are en­cour­aged to em­brace di­ver­sity, and young peo­ple to ask ques­tions about their cul­tural her­itage, and it’s im­por­tant to do that and sus­tain the lan­guage into the fu­ture.’’

WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ.

Te Reo Kuki Ai­raini dancers, from left, Ngavaine Ramea-Pongi, 8, and Sarah Ngauo­raiti, 9.

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