Cook Islands Culture,
in New Zealand

Te Maeva Nui NZ is a cultural organisation, based in New Zealand, with the goal of organising and promoting Cook Islands art, culture, song and performance to the world.

Our first event was held in 2019 – Te Maeva Nui NZ: Ariki, Royals of the seas. In all, eight teams, representing five islands and the three vaka’s of Rarotonga, came together to achieve the goal of promoting Cook Islands culture.


Through costume making, we are promoting the creation of Cook Islands artistry. Known for its skilled use of natural colours and elements, Cook Islands costumes have evolved over the years to embrace the locations that our Cook Islanders have migrated to.

Each Te Maeva Nui, there is a requirement for teams to create beautiful, unique and traditional costume-wear to be used in each performance. Since there are five categories, each category needs its own unique costume; and each costume needs to tie into the story being told in each performance piece. To do this takes skill, and hundreds of man hours – from sourcing raw materials, to sewing, stitching and gluing everything in minute detail for the 60+ cast of performers.

Te Maeva Nui is working to create classes that, not only teach, but lead to production level costume making, giving people the opportunity to learn from master costume makers and master craftsman.


A Te Maeva Nui NZ performance is not complete without the requisite singing and accompanying instrumental music. Some compositions are a marvel and tell stories of ancestors who have done great things for their people, while other compositions share a love story. Whatever the style, composing Cook Islands music is not easy. There is the language to consider, then the poetic use of the language, and then forming a tune to accompany it.

Te Maeva Nui NZ aims to pair master composers, in small limited classes with students wanting to learn the art of Cook Islands performance composition.


Dancing is a prerequisite to Cook Islands performance. Using dance as a channel to tell our stories with the accompanying music and costumes has been a tradition for many years. Most of what is displayed in public is the result of tourism based entertainment, however, that does not diminish the quality of the performances, or the strength of the stories and characters each dance portrays.

With choreography at the heart of Te Maeva Nui NZ, we will pair participants with strong Cook Islands choreographers – both male and female – who understand the language to bring about the best dance in Cook Islands dance.

Te Maeva Nui NZ Festival

At the heart of all this learning is the live performance. After months of teaching, practicing and rehearsing, all our participants, representing the origins of their ancestors come together over two days to show off what they have learned.

Te Maeva Nui NZ 2021 will go ahead, with more details to follow as they emerge.


Do you want to be a part of Te Maeva Nui NZ? Send us your details and we’ll be in touch!