Taputapuatea Rapa Nui Festival 2023

Taputapuātea 2023: A Celebration of Polynesian Cultures in Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui has become the epicenter of an unprecedented Polynesian cultural gathering, thanks to the Taputapuātea 2023 Festival, an event of great cultural and spiritual importance, celebrating the beauty and richness of the Polynesian heritage.

For the first time, between last December 18 and 21, Easter Island hosted this festival that had previously been held in Raiatea, receiving cultural delegations of more than 250 people from several Pacific islands such as Hawaiꞌi, Raiꞌātea, Tumaraꞌa, Rapa Iti, Ile Des Pins, Noumēa, New Caledonia and Henua ꞌEnana.

The name of the festival, Taputapuātea, has its origins in the island Raiatea (belonging to French Polynesia) which is an archaeological and spiritual jewel, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2017. On this wonderful island there are sacred sites such as marae, ceremonial platforms and other architectural elements dating back many centuries. The Marae Taputapuātea, or Marae Opoa, is the main marae of the Raiatea archaeological complex and is considered the starting point of the great Polynesian migrations, making it a site of significant historical importance.

The festival was born in 1995, marked by the gathering of ocean-going canoes from different Polynesian islands in Raiatea. Known as 'The nine tentacles of the octopus gliding across the ocean', this event celebrates the great epic of Polynesian migration. The metaphor of the octopus plays a central role: its body represents the historical importance of Raiatea in Polynesian culture, while its tentacles symbolize the various migration routes across the ocean. This symbol reflects the impressive navigational skills of the Polynesians, who were pioneers in crossing vast distances by sea, using canoes and guided solely by their ancestral knowledge and the stars, without the aid of modern navigational instruments.

The opening ceremony of the Festival was held at Haŋa Rau - Anakena in front of the Ahu Ature Hoa, with representatives from Noumēa, Ile des Pins, Rapa Iti, Raiatea, Utoroa, Taputapuātea, Taumara'a, Tumura'i Fenua, Tahiti and Hawai'i. As tradition dictates, the attendees shared a Umu Hatu o curanto (meats and vegetables cooked underground with hot stones), a communal meal that blessed the event. Rapa Nui dances filled the atmosphere with energy and joy.

Many events and activities took place during the four days of the festival, including traditional dances and musical performances with the participation of local and international groups that showcased Polynesian art. In addition, traditional handicraft workshops were organized, which allowed visitors to learn more about ancestral techniques and knowledge. Of course, there was also a sample of Polynesian gastronomy, with authentic dishes from the local cuisine of each island.

The spiritual ceremonies held at the Taputapuātea Festival connected the participants with the mana (mystical energy or power from the ancestors), Polynesian history and spirituality. These ceremonies included prayers, songs and offerings to the ancestors, highlighting the deep cultural connections of the Polynesian people.

The event concluded with a sense of community and unforgettable memories for all attendees. The Taputapuātea Festival not only celebrates traditions, but also strengthens the connection between Polynesian peoples, showing the world the richness and diversity of their culture.
The next edition will take place in New Caledonia, promising to continue the tradition of celebrating and enriching Polynesian cultures.


You may also be interested in