Best of the Pacific on show

Auckland, NEW ZEALAND — The sights and sounds of the Pacific rang across Western Springs in Auckland as the Pasifika Festival, the biggest Pacific cultural event of its kind in the world, got underway on Saturday.

Traditional performances, handicrafts, fashion and cuisine filled Western Springs Park over the weekend, attracting over 60,000 visitors.

Festival organizers this year wanted to focus the two-day event on connecting with village co-ordinators and Pacific communities.

Twenty six years ago the festival began as a joint initiative between community leaders and the council to bring Pasifika communities together.

It is also an opportunity to celebrate and share Pacific Island cultures with the wider Auckland community.

A new component this year showcases small and medium size businesses from the Pacific to New Zealand consumers.

Keith Than - Head to Toes - Samoa

Keith Than - Head to Toes - Samoa [Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood]

Samoa Head to Toes stallholder Keith Than is selling Samoan clothes like puletasi made out of fabric handprinted and designed by his mother.

"There's lots of competition at the moment. We have been coming for a few years now and we love this event."

Mina Halatanu is selling Tongan fine mats and tapa that she has made herself.

"My prices are good and if people like smaller pieces, then I will make the pieces smaller for them. Every year I come here from Tonga. I am happy to come and see the people and get the money and I am very happy."

Niue Village supporter Sally Ikinofo is happy to reconnect with people.

Supporter of the Niue village at Pasifika Festival 2018, Sally Ikinofo

Supporter of the Niue village at Pasifika Festival 2018, Sally Ikinofo [Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood]

"Well we have got our usual arts and craft and embroidery that the ladies spend a lot of time making, the umu is down," she said.

"It's great to celebrate our culture and catch-up with people you don't normally see cos you live in different areas."

The Pasifika Festival will feature around 220 local and international performance groups, more than 200 food and craft stalls over 11 Pacific villages.

Tominiko Vaka'uta - Tongan group at Pasifika Festival 2018

Tominiko Vaka'uta - Tongan group at Pasifika Festival 2018 [Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood]

Tongan performer Tominiko Vakauta said his group were asked to perform on the Fiji Village stage.

"It's great and it is different to Polyfest because we performed over there, but this is definitely different, with different people."

Tuvaluan elder Neia Allia said he has been busy making traditional food cooked umu style under the ground with hot rocks placed on top.

"I like Pasifika, there are good people here and I love the culture."

Cook Island food stall owner William Nio has been up all night preparing his food on behalf of his church group.

William Nio - Cook Island village at Pasifika Festival 2018

William Nio - Cook Island village at Pasifika Festival 2018 [Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood]

"We had to prepare 800 Cook Island donuts last night and they are still hot and ready for people to buy. Lot of prep work for people to do but we hope people will enjoy the food."

 

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