Festival highlights spirit of the Pacific

The 2012 ASB Polyfest held on March 14 was the biggest gathering of Polynesians.

The annual event, now in its 37th year, attracted 58 schools, 195 performing groups, about 9500 performers and 95,000 spectators over four days.

The Festival saw the Manukau Sports Bowl reverberate with passion, culture, colour and creativity.

Showcasing New Zealand’s diverse cultures and celebrating our youth, the ASB Polyfest featured traditional music, dance, costume and speeches, recognised as an important event promoting unity and diversity.

Fijian, Indo-Fijian, Tokelau, Chinese, Tuvaluan, Filipino, Thai, Japanese, African, Korean, Malaysian, Cambodian, Sri Lankan and Indian ethnic groups were also involved in the festival.

The organisers piloted a new model, with six secondary schools made to host and compete in programmes. They included Kia Aroha College (Maori), Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate (Cook Islands), Manurewa High School (Samoan), James Cook High School (Tongan), Alfriston College (Niue) and Papatoetoe High School (Diversity).

The event began in 1976 as ‘Auckland Secondary Schools Maori and Pacific Islands Cultural Festival’ with four schools. It has since grown to become an iconic event with more than 60 schools involved, celebrating the pride and passion of our Maori and Pacific Island communities and embracing diversity.

The Festival opened with a flag raising ceremony conducted by Tainui Kaumatua, stage representatives and the host school. This ceremony took place early in the morning at sunrise on the raised ground overlooking the Maori Stage.

The Powhiri was the most significant part of the festival held in Maori, Samoan and other Pacific languages.

While Maori Affairs minister Dr Peter Sharples and Labour MP Shane Jones were the guests or manuhiri, ASB Trust officials, Auckland Mayor Len Brown and other Pacific leaders formed the host or Tainui.

Later, Maori and Diversity groups presented their programmes.

Kia Aroha College, Papakura High School, Bernadine College, Takapuna Grammar, Alfriston College, Diocesan School for Girls and Mt Roskill Grammar represented the Maori stage. The vigour, interest and dedication that the youth showed towards their culture spoke loudly that despite the advent of Western influence, Maori and Pacific cultures were safely embedded in the classrooms of our schools, in the hearts of our youths in high schools.

Thakur Ranjit Singh of Media Relations Limited covered the Polyfest as an accredited journalist of Indian Newslink.

Email: thakurji@xtra.co.nz Website: www.mediarelations.co.nz

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