TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Halawan tribe of the Amis indigenous people in Hualien and the Ngati Manu tribe of New Zealand’s Maori people enlivened the Executive Yuan on Wednesday (August 14) with their traditional music and dances.
Though divided by geological boundaries, the two indigenous groups both speak a language belonging to the Austronesian language family. Likewise, both peoples are the native residents of their respective countries.
The Ngati Manu tribe is visiting Taiwan on a two-week trip to trace their roots on the island, as some researchers believe that the Austronesian language was first developed in Taiwan. Lauding the event as meaningful, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said he is glad to see young people from both countries gaining a greater understanding of one another through interactions.
A member of the Halawan tribe herself, Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka said the ceremony held in front of Taiwan’s top administrative body was unprecedented. Members of the tribe led by Chief Sawmah performed a ritual that is said to bring good luck to the administration’s operations.
The ceremony was followed by a formal announcement of the Amis’ most important event of the year: the Ilisin Harvest Festival. Kolas said the government is committed to protecting different cultures on the island and promoting Taiwan as a country that embraces ethnic diversity.
The Ngati Manu tribe presented the traditional Maori dance of “Kapa Haka.” Led by its chief, Arapeta Hamilton, members of the tribe arrived in Taiwan early Thursday morning.
The visit was part of a program promoting cultural exchanges between Taiwan’s indigenous communities and the Maori people from New Zealand. Members of the Ngati Manu tribe will also join the Halawan harvest festival, scheduled from Aug. 16-19.