The Marquesas Art & Culture Festival

Bird Dance Marquesas

Prior to 1986, many people in the remote Marquesas islands were worried that the ancient traditions and cultures would be lost if a concentrated effort was not made to preserve them. From this concern the cultural organisation known as “Motu Haka o Te Fenua Enata” was established as they organized the first Art and Culture festival on the Marquesas Island of Ua Pou.

This festival encourages its youth to approach the Tuhuka (wise-men) of the islands to be trained in the ancient traditions and culture of the islands.

The “Matavaa O Te Fenua Enana ” or the Marquesas Art & Culture Festival was established and now re-occurs every 4 years on one of the three most populated Marquesas Islands. The festival rotates between the islands of Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva, and Hiva Oa. Another mini-festival also takes place every four years, alternating so that there is a festival every 2 years. The mini-festival takes place on the smaller islands of Tahuata, Fatu Hiva and Ua Huka.

The last festival was in December 2017  on the island of Tahuata to continue the tradition of demonstrating traditional sports, language, dances (including the well known Haka), sculpture, songs and tattooing. The next Big Festival will be on the island of Ua Pou in 2019. The Aranui 5 always spends a day on the host island to take in the festivities.Hiva Oa

The most recent festivals have brought together over 1800 participants from islands outside of the Marquesas. Youth, their families and instructors come from other Polynesian islands which stretches out to Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. Those attending this rare event will be immersed an opportunity to dive into the heart of the traditions of Polynesia.

The mini festivals by comparison, only take in participants from the Marquesas islands and does not include Polynesians from further destinations.

Mini Marquesas Islands Festival

The reawakening of the Marquesan people

Mata’vaa Iti, the Mini Festival of the Marquesas Islands, is held every 4 years, alternating with Mata’vaa, the main arts festival of the Marquesas Islands. The first edition of the Mini Festival was held in 2006 on Tahuata. The next mini-festival will be in 2021! Dances, traditional games, exhibitions, contests, etc. 600 members of various delegations, along with the public, are expected at the end of this year. While the Big Festival has gradually opened up to the other Polynesian archipelagoes, with groups coming from Hawaii, the Samoas, New Zealand, Tahiti, Easter Island, and elsewhere, the Mini Festival features only groups from the Marquesas Islands, with the goal to maintain the Marquesan culture alive around a common theme which, in 2017,  was:

„Let us make what we planted bear fruit“.

Interested in the event?
Contact Far and Away Adventures to plan an Aranui voyage that takes in one of these Marquesas Islands Festivals or ask us about a custom built package with flights to get to the festival and accommodations on the island.

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