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