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The Cook Islands brings excitement to FestPAC with captivating shows

The Cook Islands brings excitement to FestPAC with captivating shows

Dancers from the Cook Islands National Arts Theater (CINAT) will perform at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii this week. FestPac Cook Islands 2024/ 24061431

The pulsating drums, beautiful performers, vibrant costumes and skilled artisans of the Cook Islands captivate audiences at the 13th Pacific Arts Festival and Culture in Honolulu, Hawaii, with their captivating shows and high-caliber artistic skills.

Cultural experts, Jane Rubena and her partner Mark Short, are the leaders of the Cook Islands National Arts Theater (CINAT) performing arts team.

With her decades of experience in Cook Islands culture, Rubena has a deep appreciation and passion for it.

She is excited to attend FestPAC for the first time and is excited about the artists and skilled talent on the team.

“Everyone here with us at this festival, our artisans, costume designers and sculptors, showcasing our arts and crafts; and it was wonderful to witness the culture of the participating Pacific countries,” says Rubena.



Jane Rubena, co-leader of the Cook Islands National Arts Theater (CINAT) performing arts team, left, along with other members of the team. Ambushia Mateariki/24061443

CINAT has prepared twelve items for FestPAC, and while they have not performed every item so far, the group still has seven days in Honolulu before returning home next week.

Rubena says that each taunga has their own way of learning skills and making items.

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“I am very open-minded, I am about working with the new generation – our young people, how are we going to develop and encourage them differently.

“The creations we have put together are a collaboration of everyone’s input, this is not just a one-man band.”

CINAT has integrated both traditional and contemporary dance into their performances.

“We have our taunga who have always inspired us with their music and compositions that we are honored to perform,” Rubena explains.

Rubena would like to thank the five CINAT members from Aitutaki Island who have become an integral part of the team, thanks to the kind sponsorship of Ewan Smith from Air Rarotonga for supporting their weekly flights to Rarotonga from Aitutaki for rehearsals.

“We are so grateful to Ewan and Air Raro for making this possible for our artists – Alone ‘Ally’ Monga, Kalan Turia, Retire Puapii, Mereana Bishop and Nicola Christian.”

The singers in the group are: Elizabeth Pitomaki, Jane Rubena, Teata Nga Moeara, Tupa Tupa, Tina Koronui Herman and Alone “Ally” Monga from Aitutaki.



A male dancer entertains the crowd at the Polynesian Cultural Center this week. FestPac Cook Islands 2024/24061432

The costume designers are: Mareta Ange Teira – lead designer, assisted by Kura Taruia and Tautape Samson.

Rubena and Short are both passionate about passing on the knowledge of our culture and have been teaching their children, Mahanarei (17 years old), Akirata (just turned 16 years old) and Kaena (11 years old), the art of drumming since they were four. years old.

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Hawai’i had asked if children with cultural talent could be part of the team.

Rubena was thrilled that her children were selected by Tauranga Vananga to be part of the team due to their expert drumming skills.

Seeing her children perform on the international stage was a highlight for her.

“I don’t think they realize how big this festival is. For me it is very special to be here with my children.



Cook Islands dancer Tiare Anguna with a fellow dancer at the Polynesian Cultural Center this week. FestPac Cook Islands 2024/24061444

“I thank Tauranga Vananga, the Minister, Secretary and Government for giving me this honor to lead this 2024 CINAT performing arts team.”

Rubena says she is also very proud of the delegation – the drummers, dancers, costume designers, singers, craftspeople, media, organizers Tauranga Vananga, Prime Minister Mark Brown, Cultural Development Minister George “Maggie” Angene and New Zealand Consul Keu Mataroa from the Cook Islands for their support and being part of the team.

“All glory to Heavenly Father for this blessing. This festival has definitely been a highlight for everyone, Kia Orana and Kia Manuia.”

The artisans and part of the group will return to Rarotonga this evening.

The artists and Emile Kairua, secretary of Tauranga Vananga, will return home on June 22.


Melina etches in Honolulu