President of French Polynesia Edouard Fritch and a Tahitian traveling party will be hosted by Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti in Uawa, after a recent cultural exchange in Tahiti.
The relationship builds on that established by Tahitian navigator Tupaia who made a memorable visit to Uawa in 1769 with the Endeavour.
Pirihria Poi says, “Their Tahitian language is the same, if they speak slowly we can understand what they're saying.”
The word island is the same as ours, water, land ... when we walked onto their marae, the oratory and songs took place, that aspect is the same. "
55 members of the Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti clan ventured to Tahiti and visited areas of cultural significance.
“We learnt that Tupaea was from Raiatea, and he boarded the Endeavour at Mahina,” says Poi.
"He was a master with a worldly mindset, we learnt about where they left Tahiti at Taputapuātea, we went to the waters there to sing and pay our respects to those who left from that location."
Mahina in Tahiti and Gisborne have been sister cities for over 15 years, a historical relationship with genealogical and cultural ties that remain strong.
"One of the elderly women was on a hill and called us in welcome, 'come, come', we do that as well. In Moorea, some press noses to hongi, others do the two kisses. Some of the elderly men only press foreheads which was hard case."
A video of the group performing in a takeaway store is still doing the rounds on the internet.
“We made great friendships and we continue to maintain contact with our friends through Facebook and email,” says Manuel.
The visitors from Tahiti will arrive in Uawa in October.