What to see, eat and do at Pasifika Festival 2018

by Vomle Springford / 22 March, 2018

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Pasifika

Performers from Samoa. Photos/ATEED.

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Celebrate the Pacific Islands at Pasifika Festival

The largest Pacific Island cultural festival in the world takes place this weekend at Western Springs Park

It’s “organised chaos” right now at Western Springs Park with lots going on behind the scenes, as the Pasifika Festival team prepares to host tens of thousands of people over the annual, two-day event, says Leisa Siteine, the festival’s project manager.

Heading a team of 12, along with hundreds of contractors setting up things like sound, stage, water and electrical, it takes a lot of planning, she says. “It’s a bit hectic ‒ organised chaos as these sorts of events are.”

Once it all comes together, Auckland's diverse Pacific communities will present the 11 “villages” at the festival. The villages represent the Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Aotearoa, Hawaii, Kiribati, Samoa, Tahiti, Tuvalu, Tonga and Tokelau, each with a performance stage and market stalls selling signature dishes and crafts unique to the village’s culture.

One highlight of the festival will be to watch the renowned Suluape tattooists at work in the Samoa village which ends with a sacred ceremony ‒ a rare opportunity for non-Samoans to see. Auckland’s Karanga Ink artists will also be carrying out ta moko in the Aotearoa village.

Siteine says there’s a number of international groups she’s looking forward to seeing perform ‒ hula groups from Hawaii, the 32-member La Orana Troupe Tahiti from Papara, and the Heimana Hula Band from Rarotonga make up just part of the 220 act line-up.

Food is also a key part of the festival. For first-time visitors, Siteine recommends trying earth oven cooking, aka hangi, umu or lovo, which various villages will be doing.“They are going to be cooking on site so people can actually see how it’s done and then taste the food.”

Other dishes to try: fekei, at the Tuvalu village, a sweet dessert made with grated cassava, toddy (coconut palm sap) and coconut cream; maroro tunutunu, or flying fish, at the Cook Islands village, a tasty delicacy barbecued in its own scales on charcoal to keep the natural juices of the māroro which gives it its smoky flavour; and smoked eel, at the Aotearoa village.

The festival is in its 26th year and has become the largest Pacific Island cultural festival of its kind in the world, evolving out of the idea in the 1990s to put on a “South Pacific Week”. Siteine puts its longevity down to the support of Auckland’s Pacific community and the fact it’s fun, free, safe and for everybody.

“The festival is really all about celebration, it’s a feel-good thing and people like coming together to celebrate the Pacific.”

More details of the event can be found here.

Pasifika Festival 2018
Sat 24 March and Sun 25 March
Western Springs Park
Western Springs

Pasifika

Anunua Performing Arts group.

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