Exquisite Tahitian dancing, drumming and fire knife dancing will take place during the 11th Annual Heiva I Kaua`i Iorana Tahiti at Kapa`a Beach Park on Saturday and Sunday, August 4-5. Loosely translated, Heiva I Kauai Ia Orana Tahiti means the event on Kaua`i that welcomes Tahiti, and it does so with open arms, as Tahitian Dancers from around the islands and farther afield come to test themselves — and entertain the public.
It’s non-stop action from the minute the gate opens at 9 a.m. until it closes at 5 p.m., both days. On Saturday, an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. leads into competition, while ringing the interior of the park there’s loads of vendors — about 40 last year — supplying food and beverages, and crafts and knick-knacks as group and solo dancing take place.
On Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning,
multi-cultural workshops, including Tahitian dance, choreography, and drumming will be open to the public, and persons at every level are welcome.
Last year, about 3,400 persons filled the park over two days. Add 300 more persons performing, competing, volunteering and judging and presto — a tiny, instant Tahitian village sprang from the grass.
“Each year, the festival increases in the number of competitors, attendees and booths,” says Jo Manea,
a Heiva committee member and wife of the festival founder, Tepairu Manea.
Tepairu, a Tahitian and Cook Islander by heritage, born in Tahiti, grew up in New Caledonia. After meeting and marrying his wife Jo, he came to Kaua`i, where he reconnected heart and soul to the music and dance of his birth land.
For a long time, there was an annual Kaua`i Tahiti Fete held at Coco Palms. Manea saw it for the first time in 1991 and was drawn back, rediscovering his Tahitian culture.
Listening to recordings, he learned how to drum Tahitian style and how to make Tahitian drums.
“My first drum was ugly,” Manea said back in a 2004 interview, when the Heiva was in its infancy. “It took me about eight years to learn.”
When the Kaua`i Tahiti Fete ceased, Manea stepped in with the Heiva. The rest is history.
Admission to the 11th Annual Heiva I Kaua`i Iorana Tahiti is $5 a day at the door. Children ages 6 and under enter for free.
For information, call 808.822.9447. Read more details online at www.heivaikauai.com
Sponsors of the two-day event include Hawai`i Tourism Authority, County of Kaua`i Product Enrichment Program, Kapa`a Rotary, Geico and Kaua`i Nursery and Landscaping.