10th Festival Of Pacific Arts, Exhilarating Start
10th Festival of Pacific Arts begins in Pagopago, American Samoa
The 10th Festival of Pacific Arts got off to an exhilarating start despite windy and wet conditions in Pagopago, the capital of American Samoa.
These gusty conditions marred the welcoming of the vakas (drua type voyaging canoes) which were to have sailed from Tahiti, Hawaii and the Cook Islands.
This however, did not impede the American Samoans from putting on a welcoming ceremony fit for kings.
The ceremonies commenced at Utulei beach, the venue for the canoe and navigation events of the festival, where Fiji delegation Government representative and Minister for Education, Culture, Heritage and the Arts, Mr Filipe Bole and the traditional delegation head the Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere represented Fiji at the arrival of the canoes ceremony.
This was proceeded by a march from Utulei beach to the malai for the ava ceremony (yaqona ceremony) led by the ever ready to entertain, Cook Islanders.
The Fiji delegation clad in their blue sulus and t-shirts were joined by the Deputy Secretary for Education, Mr Filipe Jitoko and Director for Culture, Heritage and the Arts, Mr Peni Cavuilagi.
The ava ceremony showcased an ancient tradition rarely seen by the local populace some which said they could not remember the last time such a ceremony was performed.
Chiefly representatives of Amerika Samoan districts each stood with ava sticks which were presented to the delegation heads.
This portion of the ceremony was carried out with the strictest reverence and protocol where traditional warriors stood at the periphery of the ceremony clad with clubs in hand to fend off any intruder.
In true Samoan tradition the women showed their weaving of fine mats before it was presented to the delegation heads.
The Governor of American Samoa, Togiola Tulafono welcomed the government heads and delegates to American Samoa saying it was an honour for them to host the festival.
The representatives of the heads of state were then hosted to lunch at the Sadies at the beach hotel while the delegates were served at the Malai.