HEIVA TARAVA RAROMATA’I is a festival dedicated to Tahitian traditional chanting. Tahiti Dance Online explores this wonderful world of tradition.
Te Pape Ora no Papofai @Anapa Production
The Heiva Tarava Raromata’i was created by current minister of Culture Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu alongside Te Fare Tauhiti Nui last year in order to promote the traditional art of chanting. In this edition, 6 groups will compete who are based in Tahiti and one coming from the island of Huahine. The chants have been preserved in our traditions and now mainly in protestant church groups, an art form that existed pre-colonisation.
The first chanting competition occurred on July 14th 1881 during the Heiva celebrations which allowed different districts to showcase their myths, legends and proud ferveur for their fenua, their place of home. The first ever edition was a success bringing 30 groups and years later during the last Heiva we counted only 21 groups vying for the top position. In this second edition of the festival groups will unite in the garden of Paofai in Papeete.
In this day and age organisers felt it important to perpetuate this traditional art and the fact that it is still alive today means that a ‘transgenerational’ phenomena occurred in order to preserve this cultural expression. Leader of one of the most prominent groups ‘Faretou’, Edwin Teheiura said that ‘from 14 to 70 years living the art form this only the second time that a separate festival has been created for this specific purpose”. It remains important for visibility and to attract younger participants.
Like last year, the central idea remains to help ‘the reappropriation of the population of these songs”,”guarantors of oral transmission of our values, our stories and our history”. For this, three workshops were set up in order to explain and understand the dynamics and organisational aspects of a tarava chant group.
Tamari’i Rapa no Tahiti @ Anapa Production
In the evening the public was invited to sing along with 500 singers from six groups. Each group performed two chants or ‘himene’ one an original composition and the other an ancient chant recorded in the archives from 1929 once again to reinforce the importance of the art form and to carry on the traditions.
Organisers are already planning on next year’s edition and making it a permanent event on the Heiva calendar. The next edition will honour the traditional chants of the Austral Islands or Tuha’a Pae.