Tahitians arrive

LIHUE — Raymond Graff, considered one of the highest ranking kahuna of French Polynesia and originator of the fire dance, hopes to have the fire dance on Kauai one day.

Graff was among the group of more than 70 Polynesians who arrived on Kauai for a 10-day stay coordinated by Kumu Hula Blaine Kia of Lauakea Foundation.

“Raymond is a very significant person,” said Randy Wichman, who was among the list of Kauai dignitaries on hand for Sunday morning’s airport greeting. “He is considered to be among the highest ranking kahuna in French Polynesia.”

The group will perform for guests at the Kauai Hospice’s Concert in the Sky starting at 5 p.m. today.

On Tuesday, the County of Kauai hosts a reaffirmation of its sister city relationship with Papenoo, Tahiti, starting at 9 a.m. in the Moikeha Building.

“I went to Tahiti once with former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka,” said Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. “She established the sister city connection when she was the mayor. We will reaffirm that relationship Tuesday.”

Among the traveling group of Polynesians, Papenoo Mayor Avaemai Vetea was being helped by Jean Claude Teriieroojterai.

“Jean Claude is a very important person with this group,” said Madeline Guyett, a volunteer helping lead the airport greeting. “He and Eriki Marchand are the cultural interpreters. During his last trip here, he explained the meanings of the dances being performed, the words, the origin, and why it is being done. He’ll be very busy this week.”

Among the stops at which people will have an opportunity to visit with the Polynesians are the preparations for the Tahiti Fete on Friday.

Members of the group will be available at the Kukui Grove Center, where they will be preparing lei and mats from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The materials will be used at the Kauai Tahiti Fete, whose mission is to continue the cultural connection between Kauai and French Polynesia, Tahiti, through dance, music, language, cuisine and traditions.

Friday night, the group travels to the Poipu Beach Athletic Club for Maeva Tahiti, a South Shore Tahiti-Kauai celebration, which opens at 4:30 p.m. and will feature Toa Huhina, O Tahiti E, and Halau Hula Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala as well as a variety of crafts and artisan vendors. There is an admission fee.

Gates to the weekend’s Kauai Tahiti Fete will open at 9 a.m. with programming to start at 10 a.m. and run through 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Kapaa Beach Park. There is an admission fee.

The event features Tahitian and local island arts and crafts, food booths, Tahitian and Hawaiian dance and drumming.

Saturday’s offering include performers, including more than 30 solo dancers between the ages of 4 through 40, competing for overall and age group honors. The day also includes performances from Ori Uvira Tahitian Dancers under director Nick Kaneakua, Tamatea Nui O Kauai under direction from Wailana Dasalia, and TeMana Rose Dancers under TeMana Casil.

The groups will be joined by Kauai’s Tahitian cousins, Toa Huhina, Haruru and O Tahiti E.

Sunday’s gates will open to a tribute to Uncle Joe Kahauleilio’s vision of the Kauai and Tahiti connection as well as the reconnection and farewell to the Tahitian delegation.

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