Le Maire, Julien Mai of Makatea told us about the Rangiroa festival called Farerei Haga. The festival was scheduled to start in mid-September. We had missed the majority of the Heiva festival in July. So, I really wanted to attend part of this festival, even though it would be much smaller.
Sugar Shack was anchored right outside the commune area where the majority of the events were being held. We went ashore and were able to see a lot of events. The first event we watched was the spear fishing while free diving results. Each competitor brought their catch to shore. The fish were categorized, weighed and strung together. Winners were based on quantity, weight, and we think difficulty to shoot.
We also watched the sport fisherman bring in their catch:
All the fish from both events were sold to benefit the games.
While on board Sugar Shack we watched the two different outrigger races. First were the solo outriggers. They were so extremely fast right out the gate. The competitors went right in front of Sugar Shack, around an orange marker and back to the docks.
The next race was the 6-man team outriggers. The winner paddled for an hour traveling across the shore, out a few miles, back to Avatoru and back to the dock. The teams were closely followed by spectator boats making it hard to see the outriggers. They are between the shore and the fishing boats.
The outriggers are crudely made, but somehow withstand the power of 6 Tahitians catapulting them through the waters.
The competitors for Farerei Haga are all locals living in Rangiroa. We are thinking they do this competition to determine who will represent them at the larger inter island festivals.
Coconut Javelin Toss
Matt had really wanted to watch the coconut javelin toss. We heard about this sport while we were in the Gambiers, but had never watched it. Each competitor builds their own javelins (between 12-15) that are clearly marked.
The competitors make their poles out of a light wood with spears on the end (made of rebar). Colorful tape holds the spears onto the pole. They are aiming for a coconut that has been wedged on a metal pole 15 meters up in the sky. The officials mark the coconut into 4 sections. The top section is worth 10 points, the next section is worth 8, the next is worth 6 and the bottom is worth 4. The goal is not only to hit the coconut but to hit it near the top for the most points.
Women’s Competition Javelin Toss
We watched the women first. They take one of their very light and wobbly poles and get into position. I befriended the woman in black only to realize she is the reining champion. And boy did she prove it today! I tried to capture her incredible toss below.
In position, then balance on pointer finger, then pull back for a throw, and then full release.
She was the only one that hit the coconut in almost every round. The officials pulled the pole down to determine where the coconut was hit after each 5 minute round.
Check out the photo below as it shows just how difficult it is to excel in this sport. The top photo shows a javelin just above another stuck one and barely missing the coconut.
We did not stay to watch the men as the women’s event took forever. But we did go back to look at the coconuts. We found this one that had been 8 times! Can you see the holes?
Dancing and Drums: Highlight of Farerei Haga
A successful Farerei Haga festival would not be complete without dancing and drums. We witnessed two nights of competition and it was spectacular.
As the women shacked their hips, the men squatted and did a in/out movement with their legs. The dancers thighs had to be killing them.
The final night was for the soloist to shine. Each team had their own drum line and one male and one female dancer performed.
Team Tiki Tiki won the dance competition along with their drum line and the female soloist. I can’t wait to learn how to move like them!
Sporting Events for Farerei Haga:
- Outrigger races (solo and 6-man teams)
- Spear Fishing while free fiving
- Sport Fishing
- Bacchi Ball
- Coconut Javelin throwing
- Coconut races (carrying pole with many coconuts on your shoulder)
- Basket Weaving
- Heavy Lifting of boulders
One time we went ashore and received help from a very sweet young man. As we pulled up to the concrete dock, a little boy around 3-3.5 years old came up and reached for our painter (the line we tie up to docks). I looked at him curiously, unable to speak French. Matt said hand him the line, so I did. He was so darn cute, he took the bitter end and wrapped it a BUNCH around a cleat. We usually don’t use the bitter end as the painter is really long. So, Matt took the center part of the line and tied a bowline leaving his knots as is.