Friday, June 17, 2011


@ Heiva Nui

The Heiva i Tahiti, celebrated every year during the month of July is more than just a festival, it is the pinnacle of cultural effervescence in French Polynesia.

The Heiva drags us back to the roots of Polynesian tradition, where legends and myths were born, and, for a moment, the entire population is invited to celebrate the revival of our culture.

From ancient times...

The arrival of the first Europeans and missionaries in the 18th century marked the decline of Polynesian art forms from the carving of tiki, to tattooing and dancing. Indeed, the dances were perceived as erotic and labelled as debauchery and prohibited in the name of  "teaching the untutored savage...and civilise and elevate him in the scale of humanity".  Undeniable sign of two completely disparate cultures coming together but also the announcement of the colonial reign and domination.

"A Dance in Otaheite" (Tahiti, Captain Cook's voyage) engraved by Heath after a picture by Webber, published in The Geographical Magazine, 1793 

At the beginning of the 20th century, tahitian dancing progressively makes it resurgence although the vahine are still prisoners of long missionary dresses and in 1881, the first Heiva i Tahiti takes place.

Tahitian woman in festive costume c. 1906

The resurgence of traditions marks the beginning of the Polynesian enlightenment, the resurgence of Polynesian arts with a contemporary twist. Two cultures had met, one trying to annihilate the other, but failing, and one culture was born which is a modern blend of both. modern times.

2011, 129 years of celebrations, dances, singing, legends, spear throwing, stone lifting, canoe races, games and competitions will take place for the greatest pleasure of all. The Heiva and its palette of warm colors, the Heiva and its explosion of sounds... the meeting of creativity and tradition, passion and conviction, power and grace.

 @ T. Salmon / Tahiti Tourisme

                                  @ GrĂ©goire Le Bacon / Tahiti Tourisme           @ Florian Cherreard / Tahiti Tourisme

 @ Florian Cherreard / Tahiti Tourisme

Bodies are submitted to the most demanding exercises, whether it is the gracious undulations of the dancers moving to the cadence of the music, the percussion musicians playing to a furious rhythm, the powerful bodies of the athletes, modern warriors showing their strength, ability and precision.

                               @ Lucien Pesquiz / Tahiti Tourisme                       @ T. Salmon / Tahiti Tourisme

                            @ Raymond Sahuquet / Tahiti Tourisme                    @T. Zysman / Tahiti Tourisme

@ Gregory Boissy / Tahiti Tourisme

The Heiva tells a story and in the gestures of the dancers, legends are reborn. Between seduction and decadence, the ballets are spectacular; they tell the past and the present of the Polynesian soul, traditions on a live canvas of modernity.

An outburst of emotions, effervescence, enthusiasm, frenzy, pleasure, passion, excitement, the Heiva celebrates the beauty of life and the joy of living of an entire population.


  1. Nice post, nice photos, it remains me wonderfull years passed there.....
    Thanks !

  2. Thank you Eve, I aim to please both with words and photos. I am glad to share the magic of Tahiti & her islands with you and allow you to reminisce on good time!
    Where did you live?
    Find Searching for paradise on Facebook to be updated on new posts!


  3. Run To The Hills Lyrics

    White man came across the sea
    He brought us pain and misery
    He killed our tribes killed our creed
    He took our game for his own need

    We fought him hard we fought him well
    Out on the plains we gave him hell
    But many came too much for Cree
    Oh will we ever be set free?

    Riding through dust clouds and barren wastes
    Galloping hard on the plains
    Chasing the redskins back to their holes
    Fighting them at their own game
    Murder for freedom the stab in the back
    Women and children are cowards attack

    Run to the hills, run for your lives
    Run to the hills, run for your lives

    Soldier blue in the barren wastes
    Hunting and killing their game
    Raping the women and wasting the men
    The only good Indians are tame
    Selling them whiskey and taking their gold
    Enslaving the young and destroying the old

    Run to the hills, run for your lives

    Songwriters: HARRIS, STEPHEN PERCY



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