Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heiva i Tahiti 2011

Well, if we gotta be stuck in Tahiti, we couldn't have picked a better time - Heiva i Tahiti 2011!

Heiva Dance Competition - Toakura Dance Group

Heiva is the largest festival of the year and spans four weeks and reaches a high point around Bastille Day (start of the French Revolution). 

Bastille Day Parade

The Bastille Day Parade was very short, but included the civil defense groups, fireman, policeman, marines, etc.

That's it and there weren't many spectators. Kind of strange, but we enjoyed it.

Carol and Dennis enjoying the show

Heiva is a month long celebration that includes competions in dance and chant, plus lots of sportings events like canoe races, javelin throwing, stone-lifting, fruit races, and more.

Winners of the Tahiti-Moorea Relay Race

"Va'a" is Polynesian for canoe. The 6-man canoes left Tahiti at 8am, rowed to Moorea and back again (about 24 miles over open ocean) crossing the finish line around 2:30pm. It was a relay race, and we aren't sure how often they changed crews. No matter - it was very impressive and the fans stuck with them for the distance. It was fun to watch the finish.

16-Woman Canoe Races
Well, these women didn't win their race, but they were very colorful. There was also a children's race plus more men's races, so lots of canoes and other boats in the water. These races were shorter, in the Papeete lagoon, but it was still a long way - we would never have survived.

Coconut Huskers
Polynesian title for the following 2 events "pa'aro ha'ari". The male event (1-man teams) removed the husks off of the coconut using a sharp stick. First man to finish his pile won. There was some serious muscle flashing around!

Coconut Cleaners
The female event (3-women teams) came next. 1 woman split the coconut with an axe; 2 women shelled the meat from the coconut. The first team to finish their pile of coconuts wins. Women with axes - pretty exciting and very competitive!

Javelin Throwing

In Polynesian, this event is called "patia fa" et "patia ai" - Javelin is easier for us to say! This was a great event to watch.

Javelin target - a coconut
Several teams lined up throwing hundreds of javelins (in several heats) at a coconut - way up on a very tall pole. The winning team had the most javelins stuck into the coconut. These guys had a great time - competition is always fun to watch.

Stone-Lifting event
The Polynesian title "amora'a ofai" or Stone-Lifting. Lifting the stone from the ground to the shoulder with heats starting at 55kg up to 120kg (120lb - 265lb). It is definitely an art - those are some big rocks.

Fruit Races
Fruit Races or "timau ra'au" in Polynesian. There were several men's races carrying sticks full of fruit weighing from 20kg (44lb) all the way to 50kg (110lb) and running around a very long track - twice! There was also one female heat carrying 15kg - they only had to run the track once.

Doug tried a short/lighter version of this event - it is a lot harder than it looks.

Our Hero

We loved this guy! Part of his fruit fell off during the first lap of the 50kg (110lb) race. To complete the race, he had to carry the fruit weighing about 50lb which meant changing arms often. It took him almost twice as long, but he finished. We were very impressed.

Enjoying the festivities!
These events were scheduled all around Papeete on different days, so part of our adventure was getting to the events. Buses don't always run when you need them, so we improvised:
  • Hitchhiked with a travel service for a nominal fee
  • Flagged down an older gent driving a Mercedes (very fast - yikes)
  • Museum security flagged down a car and made him take us home - hah! We invited our driver to the boat for happy hour, so it all worked out!

People are wonderful whereever you are, aren't they?

Not sure, but I liked this statue!
We were fortunate to see the Toakura Dance Group perform. They won the dance competition last year. We can see why - they were fabulous and we hope they win again this year. Too bad we couldn't take pictures and wish we understood more Polynesian.

All very amazing, so glad that we got to experience Heiva!


Ana said...

You are making great memories! What I want to know is if Doug has gotten his warrior tatoo yet.

Sarah and Darrell said...

So wonderful - you HAVE to turn this blog into a blog to book or something....too lovely not to. S

Crit said...

Looks marvelous you guys! Can't believe the scenery. Great pics and writing. stay safe!