Festival de Heiva Tahiti
“The Celebration of Life”
In Tahitian, the word Heiva (hei meaning to assemble, and va meaning community places) refers to activities, pastimes, physical exercise, and festivals. Music, dancing, singing and sporting events have always held an important place in Polynesian communities. In ancient times, they were essential components of religious and political ceremonies. Dance was one of the most sophisticated and ritualized art forms performed in groups or individually.
The traditional sporting events are based on ancient athletic activities and include; a stone lifting competition, a javelin- throwing event, outrigger canoe races, a 'copra' ( coconut husking) competition, and a fruit carrying race.
More than just a simple festival, Heiva I Tahiti has become the symbol of the Polynesian culture and an iconic event for a people proud of their heritage.
I had the absolute pleasure of enjoying a full weekend of this unique cultural event during my last residency and I have timed Workshop 1 to coincide with this event which is held at the museum just 5 minutes walk from the hotel.
Events include the 'Javelot' where teams gather in the forecourt of the Museum with their hand carved, spear like, colour coded 'Javelins'. The aim is to penetrate the target, a single coconut perched high in the air on a 20m stick. The team with the most spears remaining in the coconut wins.
You can move around the grounds of the Museum to catch other events such as dances from various islands, Rock lifting and my favorite, the Coconut Husking Race.