Polynesia: To the islands

By Lauren Jones

Lauren Jones looks at some of the Pacific’s top events.
The Fiji International Triathalon. Photo / ScottieTPhoto
The Fiji International Triathalon. Photo / ScottieTPhoto

Tahiti-Moorea marathon

If you're going to do a marathon, it might as well be in Moorea. As you can imagine, running all that way would be a lot easier in a place where the mountains seem to blend into calm, tropical beaches. Moorea is easily accessible by plane or boat from Tahiti's main island, Papeete. This year's marathon takes place on March 25. If a full marathon isn't for you, there are also the options of a 21km run, a 4.5km fun run and 1000m races for the kids. Make sure you train hard though, the small island is home to eight mountains and well known for rugged terrain.

Niue Arts & Cultural Festival

Celebrating Niuean culture through art and language, this festival is a chance to mix with the locals and immerse yourself in Niuean life. It takes place every second year, and this year runs from April 14-21, promoting music, theatre, dance, visual art and writers.

The Niue Arts & Culture Festival.
The Niue Arts & Culture Festival.


Fiji International Triathlon

The Fiji Triathlon Festival is held on Denarau Island from June 8-11. The event offers racers three different options, varying in length with an additional kids' swim and run. Denarau is part of Fiji's main island, but is privately owned and home to multiple resorts and spas. The triathlons are a unique way to see and experience the island, with the bike routes going inland. What more could you want for a holiday? Events for the whole family and then spas, restaurants and bars to relax in afterwards.

Heilala Festival - Tonga

As Tonga's national flower, the heilala, comes into bloom, the island celebrates its royalty and culture. The Heilala Festival - which starts on July 4 - also celebrates the birthday of King Tupou VI, which is actually on July 12. The week-long festival features a Miss Heilala pageant, parades and music performances, while the streets of Tongatapu are covered with colourful flowered arches. Decorative lights illuminate the Royal Tomb at Mala'ekula and the Royal Palace. If you're there, don't miss the dance group Lakalaka from Vavau, featuring about 1000 dancers.

Independence Day celebrations - Samoa

Samoa achieved independence on January 1, 1962, but celebrations are held in the first week of June, as Samoans feel it would crowd the busy Christmas period. Independence Day is the perfect day to experience Samoa's strong culture as people gather to hear the Head of State's speech and see the raising of the Samoan flag. Dancing, singing and feasting come later in the day. Many sporting events are held to mark the occasion too, including Sevens and basketball. Independence Day is one of Samoa's busiest days.

Te Maeva Nui - Cook Islands

Te Mavea Nui is a week-long celebration, which is this year held from July 28-August 5, mainly in Rarotonga, to celebrate the birthday of the Cook Islands as an independent nation. The celebrations include a huge culture and dance competition, where teams from around the islands put together dance pieces. The opening ceremony starts with a parade, followed by six nights of cultural performances, with the Constitution Day ceremony on the fourth night and the awards day, held on the fifth.

Tapati - Easter Island

The Tapati festival, Easter Island's cultural extravaganza, takes place during the first two weeks of February each year. Over two weeks there are dancing and singing competitions, as well as sports events, including swimming, canoeing and horse racing. The most anticipated event of the festival is the Haka Pei competition, where men attach themselves to plantation trunks to act as a slide then hurl themselves down a steep hill aiming to be fastest to the bottom. This year's festival wraps up on February 12.

The Haka Pei competition, where men attach themselves to plantation trunks  and hurl themselves down a hill.
The Haka Pei competition, where men attach themselves to plantation trunks and hurl themselves down a hill.

- NZ Herald

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