“Heiva I Honolulu’s” greatest moments are characterized by its accomplishments over the years.
In 2003, following the foundation of Tahiti Nui International with the cooperation of the government of Tahiti, it’s Minister of Culture and the Mayor of Honolulu, “Heiva I Honolulu” took shape. Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris was bestowed the Tahitian name Heipuni Mataarii by Tahiti’s reknown language professor Mako Tevane. Tahiti’s Minister of Culture sent a representative to Hawaii to attend the “Heiva I Honolulu” event. Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, Director of the House of Culture of French Polynesia, has since acted as Head Judge over “Heiva I Honolulu”.
Although not the only festival of its type in Hawaii, “Heiva I Honolulu” took on a new role, as the first of its caliber. In this same year, the first Group Overall recognition in the Senior Division was awarded to Nonosina of California, as the first Group Overall recognition in the Junior Division was awarded to Nonosina of Hawaii.
Sensationalizing this inaugural event, Tahiti Nui International, with the assistance of the Tahitian government, hosted Les Grands Ballet’s “Varua”, filling the Waikiki Shell’s capacity. This performance echoed the great beginnings of Tahitian dance in Hawaii and across the world.
In 2004, the growth of “Heiva I Honolulu” took on exponential numbers, featuring reknown groups representing Hawaii, North America, and now Japan.
The growth and recognition continued in 2005, when Tahiti Nui International hosted the award winning group “O Tahiti E” who featured their Grand Champion performance of “Te Muhu a Fenua”, “The Murmurs of the Land”. “Heiva I Honolulu” 2005 recognized newly elected Mayor Mufi Hanneman, who opened the ceremonies and attended the Awards night, drawing incredible capacity numbers to the Waikiki Shell yet another year.
In 2005, “Heiva I Honolulu” took wings and began to take shape in Japan. Partnering with Treasure Island of Japan, “Heiva I Japan” took root in Tokyo and continues annually today, celebrating its 5th Anniversary in September of 2011.
Tahiti Nui International’s “Heiva” concept took flight yet again in 2007. Under the direction of the current Minister of Culture, NatacheTaharua, Tahiti Nui International was invited to host “Heiva I Tahiti” Solo Competition in July, during the week of Tahiti’s own Heiva Laureat presentation and awards. Filling the Grand Theatre of the House of Culture in Papeete with a captive audience, soloists who previously competed at the Waikiki Shell, took stage in an event that would be the first of its kind. Groups from Hawaii, California, Canada, and Japan brought their soloist dancers to Tahiti in cooperation with Tahiti Nui International, The House of Culture, and the Heiva I Tahiti Committee. These same groups were invited to showcase their otea, aparima, and ahupurotu or hura presentations at Toata, the premier venue of Tahiti’s own Heiva events which captivated a sold out crowd of locals and visitors to Tahiti. The Toata stage was also the venue for Tahiti Nui International’s Heiva I Tahiti Solo Competition Overall Soloits event, where the first place soloists of each age category competes for the titles of Overall Tane and Overall Vahine. Since this event, the House of Culture of French Polynesia, under the direction of the Minister of Culture has continued to host similar events and created one of their own, Hura Tapairu.
Following such a historical moment in Tahitian dance history, “Heiva I Honolulu” was brought home to the Waikiki Shell stage from 2008 to 2010, recapturing the excitement and grandeur of its origin. The momentum over the years, took Tahiti Nui International and its “Heiva” program in 2011 to Las Vegas, Nevada. Tahiti Nui International hosted its first annual “Heiva I Las Vegas” in September of 2011 at the Cashman Center Theatre.
This year will celebrate not only the 10th anniversary of Tahiti Nui International and Heiva, but also the first year in which Tahiti Nui International will host all three events in one year: Heiva I Honolulu, Heiva I Japan, and Heiva I Las Vegas!