Much-awaited Polyfest starts in Auckland tomorrow

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Auckland, April 13, 2021

Edgewater College at the Maori Stage, ASB Polyfest 2019
Photo by Ben Campbell for BC Photography)

The Manukau Sports Bowl will burst into life with the 45th anniversary of the ASB Polyfest from tomorrow, Wednesday, April 14 to Saturday, April 17, 2021. The Sports Bowl will reverberate with traditional song and dance from Auckland’s youth.

For many Auckland students, it will be their first opportunity to grace an ASB Polyfest stage for a couple of years. Last year’s festival was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic and the final day of the 2019 festival was cancelled following the Christchurch Mosque tragedy that shook the Nation on March 15.

Disruptions test resilience

Polyfest Trust Chairperson Robert Solomone said, “The disruptions over the past two years have been a real test for everyone involved, but we have emerged more resilient, thankful, hopeful and excited about what 2021 signifies for our ASB Polyfest community.”

This year’s Polyfest marks the 45th Anniversary of this iconic festival which features traditional music, dance and speech from Auckland secondary school students. 

Students compete on the following stages – Cook Islands, Maori, Niue, Samoan, Tongan, and a Diversity stage which features performances from a range of cultural groups such as Chinese, Fijian, Tokelau, Indian, Korean and Sri Lankan. 

Students perform on these stages with pride and passion, and the honour of being top school in their respective culture. 

The theme of Healing

The festival theme from last year has been retained: Ma roto mai i te Ahurea whirikoka, ko te whakaora tinana, hinengaro, wairua me te ira tangata, meaning, “Healing the body, mind, spirit and soul with the strength of Culture.”

Festival Director Seiuli Terri Leo-Mauu said, “This theme is more relevant than ever, given the challenges that ASB Polyfest has faced over the past two years. Retaining the theme also allows students to re-purpose the performances and costumes from last year if they choose or add new elements this year.”

Flag Raising and Powhiri at ASB Polyfest 2019 (Photo by Shane Wenzlick for BC Photography)

ASB Head of Community, Sponsorship and Events Mark Graham said that the Bank is proud to be marking 36 years of supporting ASB Polyfest. 

“It has been amazing to be a part of this event for more than three decades and to see it progress into the iconic festival it is today. We look forward to supporting the students as they proudly perform for their families and their schools in a week’s time,” he said.

This year’s festival gets underway on Wednesday, 14 April with a special flag-raising ceremony at 6.30 am, followed by a powhiri at 8 am which includes a mass haka from Kura Matua Schools – Kia Aroha College and James Cook High School.

About Polyfest

Polyfest was created by teachers and students at Hillary College, Otara, Auckland in 1976 to

showcase the heritage of students and enforce pride about their cultural identity.

The event brings cultures together in one place and in course of time, the festival gained popularity with different schools hosting with competitive and non-competitive groups. the ASB Polyfest is now hosted by Tainui and Pacific Community leaders, with a host school for each stage giving a blessing before the event commences.

ASB Polyfest gives schools a chance to showcase their cultural dances.

The event goes through many planning processes to ensure that there are no health and safety risks to both the people and environment, in and around Polyfest.

Auckland Girls Grammar on the Niue stage at ASB Polyfest 2019
(Photo by Peter Meecham for BC Photography)

Cultural significance

There are permits and licenses that are needed in order for the event to take place.

These planning procedures will affect the way Polyfest is run and the success of it, having an impact on the community and everyone involved.

Although Polyfest is mostly for entertainment, its significance to the community is well recognised. The festival is a great way for Pacific Islanders and Maoris to connect back to their roots as it provides a traditional cultural dance experience.

It also gives other ethnicities a chance to learn about a different culture. Another purpose is to give secondary schools a chance to participate and learn important values and strive for excellence in performing arts.

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