If you are like 90% of the mainland population you have no idea what the Cook Islands are. Well the Cook Islands are a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean that is south of Hawaii and to the east of New Zealand. Their culture shares the most similarities with Tahitian culture, they speak a language called Rarotongan which is very close to the Maori language, they have their own form of dance, costume making, and other cultural stories.
The Cook Islands people believe that they are descended from a single ancestor who crossed the sea from Hawaikinui to come and settle these islands. Every island of Polynesia has a legend of Hawaiki which leads some scholars to believe that the Polynesians came from one land and one source. I will explain this- which may also help you to understand why Disney Princess Moana offended some people- the cultures of Polynesia and Melanesia are like a family. They are like siblings. Each one is of the same family but they speak differently, look differently, behave differently, and are largely similar deep down. The value of family is the highest in all the islands “ohana means family”- Lilo and Stitch. The reason Moana kind of gets a bad rap is because she’s like the bland mix of Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, and Tahitian culture. Each island is so different that it’s hard to believe you can get any good product out of washing out most of their culture and trying to represent all of them in one movie. Moana would probably have done better to voyage to Tahiti, Samoa, and Tonga though in reality that canoe trip takes a long, long time, rather than what happened which was that Moana was simplified and overmixed.
The Polynesian Cultural Center decided to do a showcase Cook Islands village and minishow to gauge public interest in adding a permanent Cook Islands village to the PCC where the old Marquesan village used to be. I think the biggest obstacle besides staffing the village would be that the dance and costumes are similar to Tahiti- Cook Islands culture came about 300 years before Tahitian culture did but they are still near enough to each other that most tourists would not know the differences except that Tahitian culture and language has been almost killed off by French influence (those darn French).
My friend and his family were a large part of putting together this showcase. They flew in dancers and drummers from the Cook Islands and even their prime minister came all the way from the Cook Islands up through Rarotonga and New Zealand to make it to Oahu for the show last night. He was presented with a Hawaiian sharktooth dagger and in exchange of gifts and a hongi (ceremonial greeting “kiss”) he presented the PCC representative with a carved wooden club and a Cook Islands handwoven hat. these hats are about $300 each, they take at least a week to make for a good weaver, and in order to make one they have to kill a coconut tree. I can explain that later when I talk about the Cook Islands village.
Here is a link to the Polynesian Cultural Center article about the Cook Islands showcase Cook Islands Showcase Polynesian Cultural Center
And to Cook Islands Travel page Travel to Cook Islands
And to Polynesian Cultural Center facebook page where you can find the livestream show: Polynesian Cultural Center Facebook
I enjoyed the show so much. Besides presenting clothing from the Cook Islands, modern, and in the authentic style, the show was full of amazingly talented dancers, ancient chants, and lots of good, clean fun.
And of course because I have to talk about myself I loved learning about Cook Islands culture with this showcase. I hope someday I can go there. The men’s dancing was probably my favorite of all Polynesian dance (I am so sorry Samoa please forgive me I still love you) and the women’s dancing too! Because as you will notice in Tonga and Samoa the women are very graceful and gorgeous with their dancing- but not very exciting to watch! At least not for me. I prefer Tahitian dance because it has a fast tempo and is very athletic and now I see Cook Islands and the women yell and do all sorts of crazy and I likkee it.
The Cook Islands are crazy and I like it.
The dance moves seem to come from different islands. I see some similarities to hula in the slower dances and Tahiti in the faster but you can also see Maori influence and some of the moves are similar to Samoan men’s dance! Which is why I liked it besides the fact that it was exciting and fresh. And those dance costumes mmm, love that.
To this day I’m still not sure why I chose the Polynesian Cultural Studies major. I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to do anything with it careerwise. I think I chose it because my best friends in high school were Polynesian and they had qualities about life that I wanted for myself. I thought that studying those cultures would help me be a better, more loving person. I’m very happy I got to come to BYUH and despite my challenges I can still enjoy the vibrant people of the Pacific who study and work alongside me.
And if you want me to be honest about how I’m feeling as I write this post… I miss my Samoan guyfriends. Some of them are pictured here. I feel very very sad. And I feel alone with them not being around. I would have gone around and done a lot of things today but first of all I took a sleeping pill/antidepressant last night and secondly I’m just so sad I think I just want to go back to sleep. I have really sucked at following my meal plan this week and I know that’s not good but I’ve been super busy and haven’t put it as top priority.
I’d love to get up and go do something. But I’m so depressed I can barely move.
Today I think my battle is just going to be getting something to eat and then going straight back to sleep because I can’t take this right now it hurts too much. I’m in so much pain.
It didn’t help that last time I was assaulted was at the Pacific Theater. And there’s still rumors about what happened. And that’s okay. This is a f-ing tiny college with way too many people in each other’s business and way too many people with such big “spiritual authority” that they can tell you where you belong heaven or hell, and way too many young idiots getting married too young and being stupidly happy about it. And way too little help in the church or the church school for survivors of rape and sexual assault. And way too much shame and way too much silence.
But I guess we’re okay with that, as long as it’s not us. As long as it’s my problem and not yours. As long as you can walk out whenever you feel like it, it’s okay. I loved my Samoan guyfriends so much but I don’t think they really earned it. I think they really took me for granted. And now they’re just gone. And I still have to handle all this BS and life and everything and 90% of the people I loved and cared for before I went to the hospital are just not there. I don’t really talk to people aside from my therapist and I still feel the deep lack of emotional connection and the compulsion to shove away and mistrust people- constantly. It never shuts up.
and people like my Samoan guyfriends aren’t helping. Maybe you think you can do better than I can with my life and if so, please take it. If you last a week you’re Jehovah and I’ll never say anything against you ever again. But honestly you can’t. This is my job. My life. And most days I would just kick my butt and try to fix everything and make it all better and pretend to be happy. But I just don’t have it in me today. I’m going back to sleep now. hope you’re doing better than me! ❤