• Te Maeva Nui

    Atiu Dancers

    Female group performing on stage

Te Maeva Nui - Cook Islands Dance Competition

The Te Maeva Nui Festival is held in the national Auditorium. Built in 1992 the National Auditorium is the largest multicomplex of its kind in the Cook Islands. Events of special cultural significance are held in the National Auditorium as well as international sporting events, conferences, and a variety of stage productions. The National Auditorium is fully equipped with state of the art audio, video filming and lighting equipment and has seating for just over 1,800 people.

The National Auditorium is capable of holding stage events, conferences, forums, and indoor sports. These can be of national, regional and international status. Events of Cook Islands cultural significance are held in the National Auditorium. We stand proud in our commitment to our nation's blossoming cultural identity within the wider Pacific and International communities.

Te Maeva Nui

Maeva Nui means, a great (nui) celebration (maeva). It is the most popular event of the ministry since self governing attainment from New Zealand in 1965. It is held between the last weekend of July and the first week of August. The event was previously known as the Constitutional Celebrations from 1965 and later Te Mire Maeva Nui from 1994 to 2001. Originally, the event was focused on celebrating the attainment of political self governing status from New Zealand on August 4th 1965. Today it is focused on celebrating the performing, oral, culinary, literature and material arts. The Maeva Nui is preceded by a float parade through the township of Avarua that adds to the festive atmosphere. The vibrant arts are showcased for a full week.

Maeva Nui Performing Arts Categories

There are seven categories every year:

  • Tangi ka'ara – traditional drum competition
  • Choir – hymns and choral singing
  • Immune tuki or traditional hymns in Maori
  • Kapa rima action song
  • Ura pau drum dance
  • Pe'e traditional chants and songs
  • Ute – traditional love songs


From 1998, Maeva Nui has used a thematic approach to enhance the work of performing artists. In 2009, the theme was " Te au tuatua pakari o toku matakeinanga/enua - the wise sayings of my community or island". 2010, the theme was, "Akono'anga manuiri - traditional hosting", 2011 "Te au Akairo o toku matakeinanga - The signs of my homeland/community" and for 2012, Te reo o toku matakeinanga/enua (The language of my tribe/island).

Sub themes help guide and inspire competing dance groups with their compositions for the six categories.

These are:

  • Peu tupuna – oral and material traditions
  • Politics
  • Evangeria or religion
  • Kopu tangata – extended families
  • Reo Maori – languages and dialects
  • Tarekareka – traditional competitive activities eg sports

Text provided by Ministry of Cultural Development