140 years of Heiva: a unique festival to celebrate this anniversary

Under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, we invite you to a new edition of Heiva i Tahiti which promises to be special and memorable in every way.

First of all, it marks the return of the country’s traditional song and dance groups to the mythical stage of To’atä. A moment awaited by all, artists and spectators, who during these long months of cultural disruption have suffered from not being able to express and live their love for their culture.

It is also a very symbolic moment, as it is the 140th anniversary of this popular event, the oldest in the Pacific region.

For this occasion, no competition, but a festival, a celebration, a meeting under the sign of impatience and intensity, of unity. This is the spirit of the theme, Tahiti ti’a mai, named after an ‘aparima by Coco Hotahota: a message that encourages us to move forward, to live our culture and to keep our traditions alive despite the vagaries of the moment.

Such momentum, such stakes, could not however be limited to the To’atä stage alone.

This festival also has the ambition to be exported and spread, to go and meet the population even in our most distant towns.

All the cultural establishments of the Country have also united their efforts, their means, their archives and their energy to offer you beautiful encounters. Beyond the songs and dances, which will take place in the cities of Faa’a, Mahina, Teva i uta, Punaauia and Paea, an exhibition organised at the Museum of Tahiti and her Islands traces 140 years of festivities. At the same time, a photographic exhibition will take place in Papeete, which hosted the Tiurai and then the Heiva.

The public also has an appointment with Tüa’ro mä’ohi, fire walking, Heiva va’a, Heiva rima’i, and the horse races will be part of the event again this year…

For more than a month, the Tahiti ti’a mai Festival will come to meet you. For more than a month, vibrate to the sound of our traditional instruments, immerse yourself in 140 years of our cultural history, and experience a unique moment around our culture.

More than ever this year, let’s celebrate together the beauty and uniqueness of our Heiva i Tahiti.

The terms of this Festival are as follows:

Dates: from July 1 to 17 depending on the number of groups registered
Registration period: from February 16 to March 19 inclusive
Participation categories: Hura and/or Hīmene
Mandatory condition for participation: the group must have already participated in a Heiva in the category in which it wishes to register.

The groups must present a mostly new show, based on a theme of their choice. However, they are authorized to integrate into their show paintings or songs already presented in the past.

Hura category :

45 minutes of performance
60 to 80 dancers and 12 to 24 musicians
2 required costumes: vegetal and one of your choice (new or unseen costumes are not necessary).

Hīmene Category:

15 to 20 minutes of performance
60 to 80 singers
Costumes: pōmare dress or māmā rū’au for women and for men long-sleeved shirts and pants or any traditional costume (tiputa / pareu). New or unseen costumes are not necessary.

Two songs to be performed:

A tārava 
One song of your choice from the following: rū’au, nota, tuki, patautau, ‘ute paripari. A creation with musical accompaniment is also possible.

After the groups have performed in To’atā as part of the festival, song and dance participants will perform at various sites around the island, identified by TFTN.

Check the program

Tahiti ti’a mai, a clip, a message

In the spirit of the Festival and its promising name – Tahiti ti’a mai, literally “Tahiti stand up” – the Ministry of Culture wished to take up Coco Hotahota’s ‘aparima of the same name. Written in 1983 after the passage of cyclone Veena in Polynesia, it was performed in 1984 by Irma Prince on the occasion of a particularly emotional Heiva of solidarity.

The Ministry of Culture and TNTV in partnership with the Conservatoire Artistique de Polynésie Française coordinated the recording of this moving song. Many artists were brought together for the occasion, on the Playing for Change movement concept initiated in 2002 and designed to connect the world through music.

More modestly, the Country’s approach invites Polynesians to come together to get through difficult times. Resilience and hope are thus the key words of the project, and respond, almost 37 years after the performance of this song, to another painful period for our fenua.

The event grew as it went along, driven by the pleasure of getting together and the desire to participate. In the end, more than thirty singers of all generations and more than twenty musicians took part in the filming, which was held on different sites with strong symbolic value: the Museum of Tahiti and her Islands, the Assembly of French Polynesia, the Marae Taputapuätea in Raiatea, etc. The teachers of the Conservatoire were responsible for writing the arrangements, the musical conception and the vocal structure of the choir, and they took part in the performance with their students.

The images of our archipelagos are by Olivier Chiabodo, the song is followed by a performance of Bobby Holcomb’s Porinetia.

Photo gallery of the Heiva Dance Schools 2020