Tahiti to Celebrate Annual Polynesian Festival Starting in July
The annual Heiva festival will be taking place in the main islands of French Polynesia. Heiva runs for nearly two months starting in July. The Heiva in French Polynesia is the equivalent of Tapati in the island of Rapa Nui, the Merrie Monarch Festival of the Hawaiian Islands, or the Matariki Festival in New Zealand -- a way to perpetuate, preserve and promote the arts and local Polynesian culture.
These days are filled with festivities such as traditional sports competitions, craft shows, and evenings presenting Polynesian singing and dance competitions. Following months of physical preparation for athletes, creative writing sessions and performances in which the Polynesian people learn and memorize choreography based on ancestral actions by the dancers, all Heiva participants have only one chance to prove themselves in each category.
The categories include songs, dances, canoe races, fruit carrier races, stone lifting, throwing javelins, and also creating the most beautiful piece of wooden handicrafts or carved stone. The Heiva as a whole is a competition. Thus, everywhere, associations and groups gather the best people to place the odds on their side and win one of the numerous awards that reward the time and effort to sustain the Polynesian culture.
In Tahiti, the Heiva takes place on To’ata plaza in Papeete for the songs and dances contest. The traditional sports contests take place in the Tahiti Museum gardens, and the canoe races take place in Papeete’s lagoon. In Bora Bora, the Heiva takes place on Moto'i plaza in Vaitape. Groups of songs and dances occur on the white sand, offering traditional decor for memorable soirees immersed in Tahitian culture.