There has to be something exclusive and special to an event that enjoys growing patronage and repeated encores from diverse communities resident in Greater Auckland and extending to Hamilton and Tauranga.
There has to be something unusual with a Festival that is held twice a year, each time drawing hundreds of thousands people, braving the weather, and bringing together families and friends over a two-day weekend.
There has to be something unique to a programme, whose organisers take little respite between one event and another,
And of course, there has to be something different about a community of people, who have consistently proved that success does not elude hard work, perseverance and commitment.
Fiji Festival, organised and presented by Radio Tarana has not grown bigger and better but has become a biannual feature by popular demand.
Says Managing Director Robert Khan: “Public response to the Fiji Festival has been overwhelming and as a radio station that caters to the needs of the community, we strive hard to bring something special and different at each of the Festivals. This event is gaining popularity among other ethnic groups, keen to experience Fiji in all its manifestations,” he said.
The Fiji Festival, held at the Telstra Clear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau on February 26 and 27 was perhaps the largest of its kind in recent years. With more than 40,000 men, women and children attending the two-day event, it was the talk of the town.
Pacific Island Affairs Minister Georgina te Heuheu, Auckland Mayor Len Brown, Members of Parliament David Cunliffe, Dr Rajen Prasad (Labour), Melissa Lee, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Melissa Lee, Dr Cam Calder (National) and many leaders were among those who spoke on the occasion.
Mr Cunliffe later called Indian Newslink to convey his appreciation.
“I have been a regular visitor to the Fiji Festival organised by Radio Tarana and I believe this was the most extensive to date. I was happy to see so many thousands of people getting together to foster community spirit,” he said.
There were scores of stalls preparing and selling a variety of food items that are unique to Fiji, in addition to enjoyable entertainment.
Mr Bakshi said such Festivals helped to understand people and promote mutual respect and understanding.
“The Fiji Festival organised by Radio Tarana provides a unique insight into the culture, cuisine, costumes and other aspects of Fiji. Such events help us to celebrate our cultural diversity,” he said.
As well as a number of local artistes who sang and danced, the Festival brought together several popular performers from overseas. They included Comedy King John Mohammad from the US, Dancing Queens Bijuriya and Hurricane Bibi from Fiji and Jimmy Nathu from Wellington.
The programme also included performers of ‘Trikuttu’ (which is a derivative of ‘Theru Kootu’ or ‘Street Dance’ in Tamil), a live band, ‘Faag Competition’ and ‘Meke.’
New Zealand Insurance were the winners of the top prize at the Faag Competition, followed by Shri Sanatan Dharm Omkar Ramayan and Jai Hind Satsang Sanstah Trust.
Nitin Kumar was adjudged the Best Dholak player.