Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga
Of all the islands in the political boundaries of Cook Islands, Manihiki and Rakahanga have kept up to a greater extent the form of dancing usually referred to as a tarekareka, which corresponds to the saka of Tongareva (29, p. 78). As in Tongareva, the performers are arranged in columns of fours, men and women alternating in each four. The time is given by an orchestra beating wooden gongs and usually one large modern drum covered with goatskin. In the dance various movements of hands, feet, and bodies are executed in perfect unison, a marked feature being the quivering of the page 198 bent knees and the lateral swaying of the hips. A series of different numbers follow in succession, a modern note being now introduced by a ballet master with a metal whistle to enforce commands which are issued as changes of movement are called. The dance is graceful and pleasing, but at times so fast as to partake of the nature of mere physical exercise. The dance does not attempt to express the virility of movement of the New Zealand haka, which is danced in rank and not in column. No voice accompaniment is used by the performers, due no doubt to the fact that time is given by the wooden gongs. Rehearsals are held beforehand under the direction of one who is appointed as ballet master. The movements of the various figures are arranged and practiced and their order of sequence decided upon. The figures are now usually named and the ballet master calls them out during the performance. The dances are given for the entertainment of visitors by the younger adults, who enjoy the performances as much as do their guests. The dance gives youth an opportunity of displaying grace and agility, and skill arouses admiration and applause.