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Croatia 2015 – United in Croatian Song

From the 1st to 17th July 2015 Kralj Tomislav Folklore Ensemble along with Te Roopu Tarara and Klapa Samoana embarked on an amazing tour of Croatia. Scheduled performances in Zagreb, Podgora, Međugorje, Metković, Zagvozd, Blato, Korčula and Pupnat were well received by many locals, tourists and the traveling entourage of supporters from New Zealand.

All the performers did a fantastic job representing New Zealand and their heritage, with over 50 media engagements on radio, TV and websites, as well as the live concerts. Each concert had special moments with memorable performances, locations and audiences. The Concerts followed a similar format, like that of our fundraising events. Opening with the traditional song and dance from the Island of Korčula and closing with the whole group performing Pokarekare ana followed by a Haka.

In Velica Gorica we took part in the international folk festival with separate performances from all three groups over two days. There were many international groups competing,  we won 5 categories! Big thanks to the hosts Folklore ensemble FA Turopolje and special thanks to Tomislav Milichevich for our costumes.

The concert in Zagreb at the Kerempuh theatre was the most important of the tour, with the Prime Minister and 5 other ministers in attendance. As well as representatives from the State Office for Croatians out of Croatia, City Zagreb and the Tourist Board who were among the many who supported us financially on tour. We entered the theatre and rehearsed under high security, the conditions were set for a great performance with additional musicians joining us for this show. These were some of the best violin, celo and mandolin players in Croatia. 

We performed in Podgora at the Spomenik "Galebova krila". This was a “first time” historic performance for the group, many with family heritage from Podgora. We worked around some challenges with lighting and the slippery dance surface, resulting in a very memorable concert and dinner afterwards at the Hotel Primordia.

In Međugorje the concert was held at the “Herceg Etno Selo” in the outdoor amphitheatre.  An amazing venue with great natural acoustics. We were hosted for both lunch and dinner at this amazing facility. During the day many took the opportunity to visit the church and other religious monuments.

In Metković the theatre was at capacity and conditions were again set for a great concert. During the day we explored the area with a boat trip up the Neretva river and a visit to the Vid and the Roman ruins. Frogs were a specialty on the lunch menu and very delicious.

Zagvozd was again a special concert and our first streamed live on the internet. Special thanks to Vedran Mlikota and Kulturna udruga”Glumci u Zagvozdu” for the venue setup and celebration afterwards which went into the wee small hours of the morning. A fitting celebration for our last concert on the coast.

As we travelled to the Island of Korčula via the peninsula Pelješac we stopped in historic village Nakovana. This is where the first Croatian migrant to New Zealand, Pavo Lupis, came from. Here we were met by his descendants and local historians. In a cultural exchange songs and prays were exchanged. A Maori ritual was performed, returning Pavo home in a specially prepared “taiaha” or fighting stick. Once blessed the special “taiaha” was handed over to his descendants to close the look and finally return Pavo’s spirit home.

We preformed three concerts on Korčula with crowds embracing us, surrounding us up to nine deep on all sides. In Blato the performers worked to get through the mass of people between dances. In Korčula we were guided through the old town before the concert by the Moreska swordsmen and lead into the surrounding crowd for the start of the show. In Pupnat we had a similar procession, led by Kumpanija Pupnat to the church where all performers attended a short service before the concert as per the local tradition. For a village with a normal population of just a few hundred, the numbers swelled enormously with a big street party marked the occasion. We were spoiled as big tables of food remained topped up as the food just kept on coming and the band played into the night.

We closed the tour with a day on the water around Korčula on a number of boats, thanks to Goran Oreb and his family. We spent the day sightseeing and swimming at various spots around the island, everyone said their good-byes and the Tour was closed.  

This tour has been described as one of the best to be seen in Croatia in a number of years, a wonderful experience for all involved, which would not be possible without the generous support from our club members, friends, families and key supporters. Special thanks to Mate Jujnovich and Makarska Promet doo for our bus and driver, Tomislav Milichevich for costumes, Vlado  Leko,  Dragutin Bajilo, Vedran Mlikota, Goran Oreb and Family. Also big thank you to the musicians from Zagreb Mario Belan, Marijan Mikac, Velimir Kacurov and Jozo and Martin from FA Vukovar Sydney.