AUCKLAND'S POLYFEST 2013: GIFTS OF PAPATUANUKU
The most anticipated, and biggest Pacific cultural event for secondary school institutions in Auckland, was officially opened on Wednesday at the Manukau Sports Bowl.
And the official - “2013 Polyfest is now officially opened,” exclaimed Supercity Mayor, Taua’aletoa Len Brown that got the crowd of several hundred applauding in unison.
The weather, in all its glorious sunshine, enough to send the mercury to the high 20's – was matched by the powhiri, speeches, songs in various languages that followed.
James Cook High school, or JC as Mayor Brown called it in his speech, is the matua host school for this year. They chose the theme: The gifts of Papatuanuku (mother-earth) are a koha to the people - Cherish and care for them.
And judging by their performance during the powhiri, the competition is going to be as ferocious as ever.
In the four-hour long opening procession, Polyfest kau matua Mr Eru Thompson, Mayor Brown and the Minister for Maori Affairs, Pita Sharples amongst others, had everyone hyped up for the three-day extravaganza of actions by the Cook Islands, Maori, Niuean, Samoan and Tongan students. The four-day iconic event is anticipating about 9000 students from 59 schools taking in a total of 200 performing groups.
In his address to the people at the powhiri, Mr Eru Thompson of Tainui and a Polyfestkaumatua, expressed his disappointment at not seeing the five government MP's who were present last year, then made commitment to attend the 2013 opening.
“Maybe it's your job Pita (MP Pita Sharples) to tell them they have three days to get here,” he says.
He acknowledged the event director Theresa Howard for the hard work in putting together the event and the importance of the relationships built since the Polyfest started many years ago to what it is now.
Mayor Brown elaborated on how Polyfest had the become the biggest cultural event in the city of Tamaki Makaurau over the last 38 years and is looking forward to its diverse growth.
The Maori song he led in the singing proved he had immersed himself in the Polyfest spirit, to the approval of the vast audience who sang along with him.
Papa George of the Cook Islands delegation has attended the Poyfest for over 30 years now, and the passion hadn't diminished.
“I started coming here with my kids, now my grandkids are performing, I am still here because I want to support them in learning their culture,” says Papa George
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