A new era dawns as Polyfest num­bers grow

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By SHILO KINO

A spe­cial flag-rais­ing cer­e­mony marked the end of one era and the be­gin­ning of an­other at the open­ing of the 40th an­nual ASB Polyfest on Wed­nes­day.

This will be the first year with­out long-serv­ing fes­ti­val kau­matua Eru Thomp­son, who died in Novem­ber.

A record 64 schools from the greater Auck­land re­gion will take part in the fes­ti­val in Manukau.

More than 10,000 stu­dents will per­form.

More than 80,000 peo­ple are ex­pected to at­tend the fes­ti­val over four days.

The flag cer­e­mony took place at sun­rise on raised ground over­look­ing the Maori Stage and was of­fi­ci­ated by kau­matua Martin Cooper who played a prom­i­nent role with, and in sup­port of, Eru Thomp­son.

A strong wel­come by Nga Puna o Waiorea stu­dents of West­ern Springs Col­lege set the scene.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from each is­land na­tion spoke fol­lowed by Min­is­ter for Pa­cific Peo­ples Pe­seta Sam Lo­tuIiga who told the crowd it was an ‘‘hon­our and priv­i­lege’’ to be there.

‘‘It’s been 40 years since the fes­ti­val started and I wasn’t even born then.

‘‘To­day is about our young peo­ple from the out­reaches of Auck­land – they come here to cel­e­brate the en­joy- ment of be­ing Maori and Pa­cific.

‘‘We also cel­e­brate African, Asian and other cul­tures.

‘‘Your cul­ture and lan­guage mean some­thing. They’re im­por­tant to this coun­try.’’

Mayor Len Brown ramped up the crowd on what he called an ‘‘his­toric’’ day.

‘‘It’s my real plea­sure to ac­knowl­edge ev­ery­one here and re­flect on the spirit of this oc­ca­sion to for­mally open the 40th ASB Polyfest. Wel­come to the South­side,’’ he cheered.

The open­ing ended with a wa­iata led by the mayor.

The fes­ti­val has grown from small be­gin­nings in 1976 when four schools took part: Sed­don High School (now West­ern Springs Col­lege), Aorere Col­lege, Man­gere Col­lege and Hil­lary Col­lege (now Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary Col­le­giate).

It is now the largest Maori and Pa­cific Is­land fes­ti­val of its type in the world.

Photo : BEN CAMP­BELL PHOTOGRAPHY

Fine voice: Nga Puna o Waiorea stu­dents from West­ern Springs Col­lege wel­come par­tic­i­pants.

Open­ing day: Min­is­ter for Pa­cific Peo­ples MP Pe­seta Sam Lo­tuIiga at the open­ing of Polyfest.

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