Celebrating Polynesian Culture!
The Heiva, annual celebration of the Polynesian culture, through traditional athletic competitions (fruit carrying races, stone lifting, canoe races, javelin toss, fire walking, etc.), craftsmanship demonstrations– tifaifai making, weaving, sculptures, costumes, etc.) and the highly-awaited traditional chant and dance competition, again drew crowds this year.
Over 670 athletes competing in Tu’aro Maohi, 120 Rima’i craftsmen, and no less than 4470 artists in 43 chant & dance groups participated in the Heiva i Tahiti. Some tons of leaves & flowers, traditional fabrics, stones, fruits, coconuts, mother of pearl, wood, shells, and much more had to be harvested from the four corners of Polynesia this July…
For the dancers, Heiva i Tahiti also means many months of preparation, starting in January for some, with 4 hours of practice a week and up to 10 hours including weekends as the competition gets closer. Making the costumes, harvesting the plants the day before the show so that the flowers are their freshest…hours of work and as much lost in sleep, to achieve an amazing result. Once on the stage, the stress and fatigue are washed away by the pleasure of sharing and the passion of dancing.
The most well-known dance groups compete with ingenuity to give the public colorful shows, with ever more creative choreography and more inventive costumes.
The competition was fierce to the end and the results were awaited with suspense: Hitireva, 2009 winner in the Amateur category took 1st prize this year in the Professional category based on the theme, “My identity, a weaving“: Polynesians have always woven, weaving their clothing out of tapa, weaving ropes out of coconut fibers to make their canoes…until the arrival of the first vessels from the Old World, with their cotton fabrics and a different way of life.
Cultures came together, clashed, and were blended together, like weaving a new cloth…We can grow richer from neighboring cultures without losing our traditions, that’s Hitireva’s message.
Special mention goes out to our colleagues, the dancers who competed in the Heiva again this year, some of whom (Eimeo Brillant, Nelly Tavae, Jessica Ly Wing, Kareen Wohler & Vicky Hamblin from our FIT Reservation Department) were in the winning group. We congratulate them for their tenacity and their performance!
Vive le Heiva!