HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 574:27 July 2011

Manihiki Diary

By Rangi Mitaera

Food gathering and practicing for the celebrations
After several weeks of practices, we are now down to fine tuning & improvising our voices to make our performance exceptional. On the day, the delivery will be put to the test. The practices have been a lot of fun for me because it’s my first time to take part in a Tere Party travelling down to Rarotonga. Most of the people in our group are seasoned Tere Party goers and are accustomed to the practices, costume making and all the do’s and don’ts that tie you into a Tere Party member. This morning, some of the Tukao Tere Party men got together to gather fish to take down as part of our catering and group requirements. This morning, we were blessed with a healthy catch of Parrot Fish. About 15 men took off this morning at 5am with nets, chilly bins, and a lot of experience as to where and when to make that catch. By about 9.45am, they returned with more 500 fish! Sorry, I don’t have any photo’s to show you because by the time I got down to the wharf, they had already clean, gutted and packed the fresh fish into the freezers. Anyway, that would be too heart-breaking to show you all! The same happened in Tauhunu with the men folk there, their catch was just as bountiful. As I mentioned in my previous correspondence, seafood is our main staple, so the variety and ways of catching vary depending on Ara Po, the weather and the stamina of the fishermen. I admire our people when it comes to knowledge and how we continue to use these methods to gather food. I hear it a lot amongst the men when they are sitting together. They talk about the “Turanga ote reva” and “E au akairo oki teia”. Quite fitting really considering the theme of our Maire Maeva Nui Celebrations this year. Here in Manihiki and Rakahanga, these traditions are very much alive. This is where children brought up on the outer islands have an advantage over some children living in Rarotonga. We still speak our own language and we still live with many of our traditions.
Harvesting paua
This Monday & Tuesday, the Island Council of Manihiki have decided to lift the ban on the Raui we have on Paua so that we, as a group can take some down to Rarotonga as part of our “Gifting”. Just like many other outer islands, Manihiki will play her part. I hate to disappoint you all, but please don’t ask anyone in Manihiki to bring Paua down for you? It’s just a big NO! NO! The island council have lifted this ban to assist both Tere Parties for two days. How and when it gets distributed will be decided when we get down there. We have a large Manihikian community based in Rarotonga that will assist with all these arrangements, so when decisions are made, we will consult with our people there. We will also be bringing down Rito for costumes which will be cut closer to departure day. At this stage, those dates are yet to be confirmed. I can’t wait to go out and help with the Paua. It’s not an easy job and I suppose I’m sort of glad that we are not allowed to take Paua or else I’d be receiving orders left, right and centre from my family & friends in Rarotonga. The island council is assisting with everything we do, boats and fuel to take us to practices and gather food. On the day that we go out to work the Paua, the island has been asked to assist with the gathering of Paua. It’s to be done with great care; the selection of sizes is important and the area that it is gathered from has already been dictated to us all. Oh and if you think that we can sneak a little bag “just for you”, forget it! All freezers & frozen goods will be searched! Rakahanga is our Tuakana in so far as family connections are concerned and they have been given the opportunity to gather as well. On Monday morning, they will travel to Manihiki by Ferry so that on Tuesday, they will harvest their share. It’s will be quite a big thing for us here, as they will be coming as a group and we will accommodate & cater for them. Tukao ohire will host them in our recently renovated Cyclone Martin Centre. It’s got an upstairs area for sleeping, showers & toilets downstairs and a kitchen and open area for functions. Today, the commuting between islands still continues and I must say that every time we go to Rakahanga, they always welcome us with a huge feast. The relationship we share not only confirms our blood ties but also enriches our cultural values and identity. Something that many of us forget as we continue to embrace foreign influence. Just because it’s a tradition, it doesn’t necessary mean it’s no longer applicable and obsolete. We continue to learn as each day blesses us and carry our cultural values with us.
Catching Maroro
Everyone is getting ready to come down, so that means gathering of food and material needed for craft & costumes. For our household, it’s preparing pork and fishing these few days. My husband & a mate camped over night on one of the Motu’s to get fish. When they came back the next day, they came back with a few little extras. Namely some lovely Crayfish. So guess what our dinner was last night, yep had to make some seafood sauce to go with it and boy it was just delicious! I know you guys might think we are a little crazy up here when I tell you this, but most of the time, we just eat the tails and throw the rest away....I mean there’s so much that our table was practically covered in it. My husband told me not to tell you this, but I just wanted you to know how we live up here. Well that’s my excuse and I’ll stick with it! We’ve been wrapping our fish individually as we get it and freeze immediately. This ensures that when the fish gets to Rarotonga, it’s still nice and fresh tasting and when people get their fish, they can decide how many they require for cooking each time. There’s all sorts of fish catching going on here right now. The most common or the easiest catch for us is by net catching Parrot fish or “John rahi” as we call it up here, next to that is the Flying Fish or Maroro. Rama Maroro at night is relatively easy if you have a couple of mates, a good net for catching the fish and fully charged batteries with good spotlights to view the catch. Oh and did I mention too that the spotlights serve another purpose? It’s to keep an eye on the sharks that chase the Maroro! A good catch of a couple hundred Maroro can take about an hour to get. Yes I have been in the boat catching Maroro. It’s a little bit daunting if you are not used to it and I’m not talking about the Sharks chasing the boat, it’s the Maroro heading straight for you. There’s so many that you virtually need a mask to protect your face. I remember one time when my husband and one of our workers came back home from catching Maroro they were laughing pretty hard, when I asked why they were laughing they told me that a Maroro hit one of them in the eye and the other person got hit just below the belly button...you know that area!
Count down to departure
We are now counting down the days to departure. I’m happy to be travelling in the Tere Party and excited to see my two other children Helene & Tairimapuapua in Tupapa. Their sister Hemere misses them both too and has no one to pick on. I know that they miss eating uto and fish so their father has been busy making sure that they enough to last them for a month or so. I’ve been busy also making jewelry items to sell at Trade Day. This year I am considering having 2 stalls as we have been working hard to prepare food to take down sell. I’ll be sticking with the local theme and will be cooking food that originates from Manihiki with a little influence from ingredients that are available in Rarotonga. I don’t want to dish out my Menu just yet to you all. You will all need to come down to Trade Day and see for yourselves. Northern group islands are well known for their beautiful craft work, Black Pearls, rito woven products, kikau brooms, shell jewelry and delicious food. I’ll just let you know that we have prepared a lot of pork, heaps of uto and bags of korori so check us out on Trade Day in Rarotonga. Finally, Te Maire Maeva Nui is not just an opportunity for outer islands to come to Rarotonga and perform on stage, but it’s a time when we as a nation come together as a people and recognise that in our differences in dialects, religion, political affiliation, age, gender and waters that separate our islands, we are inspired and nourished with a feast of intense culture so richly rewarding for future generations to remember - and I will, because I’m taking part. Are you? “Kia hua, Kia tata”.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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