www.culture.gov.ck | (062) 20725 | culture@cookislands.gov.ck

Cook Islands Constitution Celebrations

In recognition of attaining Self Government in 1965 the Constitution Celebrations has been a major national event in the Cook Islands. Held every year during the month of August, it is an occasion where Rarotonga and the Pa Enua celebrate cultural identity and the monumental achievement of nationhood.


The first Constitution Celebrations to take place was in 1967 on the grounds of Taputapuatea, Avarua. In 1970 it shifted to the Constitution Park, and in 1992 it was re-built and officially opened as Te Puna Korero the National Cultural Centre. Today Te Puna Korero houses the Minisitry of Cultural Development, otherwise known as Tauranga Vananga.


Prior to the year 2000 Te Maeva Nui was considered mainly one of “political” importance, when it then underwent major changes and became “Te Maeva Nui” a celebration of cultural identity and revival of our performing arts.


This event is the one and only occassion where the people of their respective Pa Enua, villages and districts of the Cook Islands come together to compete, share and showcase the traditions, legends, stories, costumes and dance of their home Island.


The featured performances are divided into six competing categories, Imene Pupu, Imene Tuki, Pe’e, Ura Pau, Kapa Rima and Ute – all of which remain today. Each of these performances are based on either a traditional legend or prophecy or a story illustrating an aspect of modern day society, in line to a National theme.

Te Maeva Nui as we know it today, is the most important annual festival in the Cook Islands and the best time to experience all aspects of Cook Islands traditional and modern culture. On August 4th, 1965, the Cook Islands gained Self Government in order to manage it’s own affairs, resources and it’s people.


Te Maeva Nui, formerly called the Constitution Celebrations, was renamed in 2001 to better reflect the joy and pride in this event of self government. The Maori name “Te Maeva Nui” translates as “the greatest or most important celebration.”


The festival is an ideal way to experience the full impact of Cook Islands culture. This is one event that the government charters transport to bring in people from the Pa Enua (Outer Islands) to joyously celebrate this important event.


Over a ten day period, from the end of July into the first week of August, one can experience numerous events on the island of Rarotonga. Arts and craft exhibitions, dancing and drumming competitions, sports and other historical events are all part of this annual occasion. The colorful float parade that marks the Opening of the celebration launches an all week festival mood for both visitors and people of the Cook islands.