Youth take steps to retain Ruatonga heritage

By Talisa Kupenga

The youth of Rarotonga's Ruatonga village held a community day today in Auckland to help disconnected members find their cultural roots. They hope the day will help keep their cultural practices alive and well for generations to come.

A cultural celebration for the Ruatonga village community.

Event organiser Nicole Lindsay says "it generated through all generations really starting through our uncle Andy who gave us the opportunity to create something and then handed it down to our generation to help organise the day."

A day to connect family with culture to learn about a shared heritage.

"I think our younger generation don't travel back to the islands as much,” she says.
“So it's more having the opportunity to get to know our neighbours better and have our elders come here, and just knowing where they come from really."

Pa Ariki (Takitimu, Rarotonga) says "[for youth] to learn from these elders what they need to do if they're not around, then they already understand what their culture is about."

People came from as far as Tokoroa and Rotorua for the community day.

Elder Andy Rauru says "eighty-five percent of the children here born in New Zealand don't know how to cook a taro on an open fire and they don't know their cousins from the islands so we thought we'd put this together to let them know where they're from."

Lindsay says "we're the next in line that has to keep our families going. We're the ones that have to keep our traditions going our culture so it's just about keeping the culture and that alive."

It was a fun day for everyone.

Event organiser Odile Pauka says "it was good to see all the mamas and papas joining in all our activities and all the laughter and joy spread around each and every one of us."

The Ruatongan community hope the event becomes an annual celebration.