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Pasifika Festival still strong after 26 years

26 March 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Pacific Radio News - news@pmn.co.nz

The 26th Pasifika Festival took place over the weekend in Auckland, with arts, crafts and food from the Pacific on display at 11 different villages.


Hawai'i Village. Photo/ PMN.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says it was an honour to attend the festival alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and a whole new generation of Pacific people. 

"It's grown and flourished in the last 26 years to become one of Auckland's premier events of the year," he says. "Pacific church and community leaders envisioned that the festival would provide a voice of Pacific people."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio. Photo/ PMN.

New National Party leader Simon Bridges also led a delegation through the festival.

National Party leader Simon Bridges (centre) with Alfred Ngaro and fellow National MPs. Photo/ PMN.

He says it's important to celebrate all things Pacific. 

"This is the capital of the Pacific. This is where most of Pasifika live more than anywhere else. So it's really important, not just for the Pacific community but for Auckland as a whole, that it's celebrated and that we enjoy this very important culture and flavour."

For Niuean weaver Matafetu Smith, the Pasifika Festival is an important part of history in Aotearoa.

She recalls attending the very first Pasifika Festival in 1992.

"The very first festival here, they asked us to bring gas cookers and I put my hand up and said, 'You call this Pasifika Festival and you're asking me to bring my gas cooker? We don't cook on gas, we cook on fire'."

Niuean traditional weaver Matafetu Smith. Photo/ PMN.

The festival also provided new markets for emerging business people.

Palauan entrepeneur Sylvia Kloulubak makes traditional glass money beads and flew in from the North Pacific as part of Pacific Trade and Invest's market at Pasifika. 

She says her passion for recycling glass into Palauan bead jewellery has helped raise a family and pay the bills.

"Before my mum used to be a full-time housewife and her mum before that. Now it's being encouraged that women make a business for themselves and families, because the lifestyle is becoming different."

Tahiti Village Coordinator Tuarau Huri was thrilled with the crowds that came through.

"It was absolutely magnificent! They were selling oils and lots of pearls and everything you can think of and it's just been totally amazing!"

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