Te Maeva Nui Festival 2021: celebrating the best of Cook Islands culture

More than 1000 Cook Islands performers represented their vaka, enua, and village to celebrate their language and culture at the Te Maeva Nui Festival in Auckland over the weekend.  

The two-day event, supported by Pasifika Futures, is the largest Cook Islands festival of the year. 

Nine cultural teams from Auckland, Wellington, and Tokoroa performed and competed in categories which include action song, drum dance and traditional hymn, song and chant. The intensity of the competition was matched with the level of judging, with four of the seven judges travelling from the Cook Islands to appraise the performances.  

Image credit: Pasifika Futures Ltd

The Te Maeva Nui Festival has been a regular fixture in the Cook Islands for many years but was first brought to New Zealand in 2019.  

Te Maeva Nui NZ board member, Mrs Frances Topa Fariu, says the festival is encouraging the younger generation who are born in New Zealand to develop a sense of identity and grow their understanding of Cook Islands culture in Aotearoa.  

“Our young people have often requested that we bring the festival from the Islands here to New Zealand, and that’s what we have done.  The objective is to pass on our culture in terms of our language and our traditional dance and song.” 

Image credit: Pasifika Futures Ltd

This year’s theme is “Resilience” which is an appropriate theme given how the world and the Pacific nations have been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Frances, who moved to New Zealand from the Cook Islands eight years ago, says the festival not only allows the promotion and celebration of traditional dance and song, but is also an opportunity to teach the younger generation how to make traditional costumes and highlight local Cook Islands delicacies.

“I’ve always been passionate about our Cook Islands culture, that’s why we’ve invested a lot of our time and have worked hard to pass on our knowledge and our language. The best way to highlight our passion is through a festival like this.” 

Mr Craig Sionetuato, the Director of Partnerships at Pasifika Futures, says supporting an event like the Te Maeva Nui Festival aligns with the organisation’s values to support positive Pacific endeavours.  

“Celebrating our Pacific cultures is very important to us. Te Maeva Nui is a fantastic festival that celebrates and showcases the Cook Islands. But it’s the journey of all the participants and bringing together our Cook Islands community here in Aotearoa that is the most inspiring.”


Date: Monday 26 July 2021