History of the Heiva I San Diego
It’s the history of a Tahiti – Faa’a’s little girl who’s dream was being a stewardess and finally became the creator of the San Diego Heiva, one of the main Polynesian event in the United States. For eight years, Maeva Tarahu Mc Nicol has taken on the challenge of promoting Polynesian culture in the United States. Last year over 300 dancers and solo dancers from California, Texas or Arizona were competing.
San Diego … its beaches, historic district, zoo, parks and tacos. But San Diego is also, once a year, a Mecca of Polynesian culture.
And yes, this city in southern California, close to 1.5 million people, has its own Heiva! And ori Tahiti is taught in no less than 40 dance schools.
The ancient Mexican village was not destined to become a stronghold of the Maohi tradition, but by creating a Heiva, a Tahitian – exiled on this land where everything is possible – has certainly contributed to the development of worship for Tahitian dance.
This adventure is the story of a little girl from Faa’a (in Tahiti) fishing in her youth with her grandmother in front of the Tahiti airport.
Maeva was cleaning the fish in the dugout while her grandmother was fluttering under the water. At the age of 18, Maeva Tarahu decided to leave Tahiti.
The young woman left her place as an employee in a travel agency to fulfill a dream: to become a stewardess. In the United States, Maeva could learn English and Spanish.
She went to find her uncle, Ben Teriitehau, the architect of the Faa’a Tahiti town hall, who encouraged her to return to school and placed her in a college in San Juan Capistrano (south of Santa Ana).
Despite the poor means of the grandmother, but helped by her uncle, Maeva acclimated. Especially since she has just found an important person in her eyes, which she had met in Tahiti: Randy Mc Nicol.
The two will be married in 1983 and will have two children: Bryan Teva and Lindsay Reva.
Heiva, a sacred name
Finally, Maeva chose the great love and stayed in the US.
She worked in a bank, then insurance and even in a company owned by Jacques Cousteau, where they were making diving clothes.
But in 1995, Maeva started to work into tourism. Based in Anaheim, her travel agency Maeva tour tries to promote Tahiti among Americans. Meanwhile, it welcomes metropolitans in the United States and Tahitians who want to discover Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas.
She became President of the Friends of Tahiti Committee, based in Newport Beach (south of Los Angeles) between 2007 and 2010.
And like every year, Maeva must ensure the gala evening, during which students from Tahiti ori schools in California perform. But Lindsay, Maeva’s daughter, wonders why her mother would not organize a Heiva outside on the beach, with torches and canoes …
Maeva explains that it is work, and that the “Heiva, is sacred”! An authorization would be needed to use this name.
Maeva finally sends Lyndsay to Tahiti for advice where she received the green light from the authorities.
Heiva i San Diego: 400 dancers and 5,000 spectators
Then, the name Heiva USA is officially registered.
This company plunges Maeva back into her past as a dancer in the troupe of Madeleine Moua and also Paulette Vienot. But there is no question of setting the event in Newport Beach, because the Mc Nicol family lives in San Diego. So, it’s finally San Diego that will become the new homeland of ori in America.
The beginnings were not easy, especially to contact all American schools of Tahitian dance.
The first Heiva, in 2010, finally attracts only fifty solo dancers, and a full band will just perform. There are no more than 150 spectators.
In one day, the mass is said but the Mayor of San Diego keep supporting the operation.
Air Tahiti Nui became the main sponsor and year after year, the Heiva attracts more and more people. Last year, there were more than 300 dancers for the solo contest and six groups in competition.
Participants come from all over California, Texas or Arizona. Over two days, 5,000 people attended Heiva. In the jury, there were even personalities from the world of Tahitian ori.
To go further in promoting Tahitian culture, Maeva would now like a twinning between San Diego and Polynesia.
The 2018 edition should see the participation of 400 dancers and solo dancers, and Maeva aims on 12 dance groups. A Tahitian village, which completes the organization, will be expanded.
So if you are in the United States during the holidays, do not hesitate to go to Heiva San Diego see American vahine. The event takes place on August 11th and 12th. It is said that the level of the dancers will be very high.
Maeva Tarahu Mc Nicol at the helm of the San Diego Heiva
Source : La depêche de Tahiti