FestPAC gathering strengthens Pacific identity

Cook Islands Photo: RNZ Pacific / Tiana Haxton

As the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC) enters its second week, Cook Islands Consul General in Aotearoa New Zealand, Keu Mataroa, expresses his deep appreciation for the rich cultural artistry and talent showcased in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Mataroa and his wife are members of the Cook Islands delegation at FestPAC in Honolulu.

He said that FestPAC is a powerful narrative because it highlights the foundation of grassroots development in indigenous living, recognises traditional practices within Pacific cultures, and showcases the performances and participation of the 27 nations. This event portrays the uniqueness of Pasifika as one fellowship.

“In this festival, we can reconnect with each of our nations here through storytelling, the arts and traditional practices which enables us to become who we are as a Pacific Island nation, but most importantly, the fellowship of our Pacific nations here in one place,” Mataroa said.

Mataroa said he is proud to see the camaraderie amongst the Cook Islands delegation and the talented performers and artisans who have come together.

“In this team, the performances I have seen by our dancers is one the best highlights for me,” he said.

“The way they use the stage and the costumes, we have to acknowledge the costume designer Mareta and the costume makers, and the whole team.”

Mataroa carries the traditional title of Tepini Rangatira, and prides himself in retaining the cultural knowledge that has been passed down to him.

He believes preserving Pacific cultures is fundamental to the region’s identity, and the Pacific Arts Festival serves as a powerful gathering for reconnection.

“I’m proud to call ourselves from Avaiki Nui, Avaiki Roa, Avaiki Pamamao – embracing our connections from the past, today,” he said.

Last week, an agreement between Avarua, Rarotonga and the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawai’i, was signed to establish a sister city relationship.

The purpose of this agreement is to further deepen the shared historical, cultural and ethnic ties that bind the people of the Cook Islands and Hawai’i. Mataroa said he was pleased to see this significant step forward for generations to come.