Te Reitaki, 3rd March 2012

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On Saturday 3 March 2012 a Dance Extravaganza took take place at the Axis Arts Centre, Manchester Metropolitan University Cheshire, to celebrate the partnership between Cheshire East and the South Pacific nation of Kiribati.

The event also provided an opportunity to bid a fond farewell to the two Kiribati boxers, Tarieta Ruatu and Andrew Kometa, who have been with us since October 2011.

During that time the boxers have been supported by three local boxing clubs (Cheshire East ABC, Crewe ABC, and Macclesfield ABC) as well as staff and volunteers from the MMU Cheshire East Pre-Games Training Camp Consortium, which includes both MMU Cheshire and Cheshire East Council. They settled in really well, experienced snow for the first time in their lives, trained hard, improved their levels of fitness and developed their ring skills and awareness through sparring and bouts. They have also made many new  friends, who have supported them in their training and fights that should give them confidence in the London 2012 Qualification Event that will take place in Canberra, Australia from 21-25 March.

The Dance Extravaganza provided an opportunity to extend the influence of the 2012 Games beyond sport. Clearly, it is a cultural event, although it does have a very clear link to a visiting National Olympic Committee and an Olympic and Paralympic theme.

It involved three choreographers and approximately 30 performers from the Kiribati Tungaru Association (KTA) aged 4-70; about 20 performers from Malbank School and Sixth Form College; and approximately 20 MMU Cheshire first year students. The KTA, a group of native Kiribati people living in the UK, performed two sets with the first using traditional songs, fast music and amplified music and the second featuring a more traditional style of dance accompanied by acoustic music and singing. The Malbank performance was based on the Olympic and Paralympic values and how they help to encourage and prepare young adults for their future. The piece by MMU Cheshire students was inspired by Olympic sculptures created by artists in response to various Olympic themes. Throughout the dance there were many images drawn from the ideas of anticipation, competition and repetition to refine skill.

An invited audience of over 100 were also treated to some film footage of the two boxers in Kiribati and in Cheshire East. This footage showed the dedication and commitment of both boxers and the challenges facing future Kiribati boxers wanting to aim for Olympic qualification. It also revealed Tarieta’s determination to return home with more knowledge and experience to be able to be a better coach for the young Kiribati boxers that he mentors.

Amongst the distinguished guests for this London 2012 Inspire Mark event were the Mayor of Cheshire East; Michael Walsh, the Kiribati Honorary Consul; Mr Derek Andrewartha, the President of the Kiribati Amateur Boxing Association; and Dennis Dunn, Pro Vice Chancellor at MMU and Dean of MMU Cheshire.

Just some of the praise given to the KTA Dancers:

  • “The KTA Dancers turned out in force to give one of the best displays of traditional I-Kiribati dancing that I have ever witnessed and the two boxers, Andrew and Tarieta, were given a great send off.”
  • “I think the dance performance at the MMU was one of the best we have seen in recent years”
  • “Thank you and your dance group for your performance at the Fair on Saturday which made the Fair such wonderful and happy feeling event. According to Louisa our President, “everywhere you looked people were smiling, and laughing” The stage was alive which added to the creation of that happy atmosphere. The Fair Committee and the Executive Committee of CCL thank you all most heartily.”
  • “Just to say that I thought Saturday’s performance was one of the best ones for a long time; and it was greatly appreciated by all. Many thanks to you all for making such an effort; I hope that you enjoyed it.
    The Pro-Vice-Chancellor wants to invite the KTA back later this year to perform at the MMU’s Centenary Celebrations; there could be no higher praise.” Michael Walsh

The success of the evening didn’t end there. On retuning back to the hall, the KTA put together a very enjoyable game of the Kabo Taeka which Tiroi ran so well. That night’s entertainment managed to raise £158.85 for the Dance Fund, and the raffle raised a further £42.00.

The Boxers – results:

Here re two emails reporting the results.

From Derek Andrewartha, on Saturday 24th March:

Mauri All,

Just to bring you all up to date with the latest news from last nights semi- finals.

Andrew fought the Tongan( who in fact fights out of New Zealand). In the first round Andrew was behind 3 points to 2, but as Kevin will know he is a bit of a slow starter! He boxed superbly after that and won 17 points to 8. He will fight Australia for the Gold medal on Sunday.

Tarieta fought New Zealand, and despite all our efforts to increase his weight was nearly 8kg lighter than his opponent. It proved too much for Tarieta and he was outmuscled by the very good kiwi. The ref stopped the contest in the 2nd round after Tarieta had been given two 8 counts. Tarieta will receive the bronze medal. This was probably Tarieta’s last amateur bout and he will now use his great experience to develop boxing in Kiribati and raise it to an even higher level. At 32 years old he thoroughly deserves a break from the ring. We should all be very proud of him.

Andrew is in good shape and is looking forward to GOING FOR GOLD tomorrow

Regards to all,

From Michael Walsh, on Wednesday 28th March:

Dear all

With great sadness I have to report that Andrew was beaten in the final by 17 points to 7. There is a possibility (only that) that he might still come to London as a ‘wild card’.

In fact Australia won every single Oceania gold medal, coming top in all weights. Six of the final bouts were Australia vs NZ; Andrew was thus one of only two Pacific Islanders to get to the finals, and the other, a Tongan, lives and trains in NZ. (The Australians were funded to the extent of $250,000 each; ours had less than a tenth of that).

I still think we can be proud of both Andrew and Tarieta, and while the latter now retires to run a boxing club in Tarawa and coach young boxers, Andrew continues and stands an excellent chance of a medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.