World’s big­gest Toke­lau gath­er­ing

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

An es­ti­mated 4000 to 5000 peo­ple are ex­pected to de­scend on Porirua this week for the Toke­lau In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val.

The four-day sports and cul­tural event, which starts on Fri­day, is the big­gest gath­er­ing of Toke­lauans in the world. They will come from all around the coun­try in­clud­ing some from as far as Hawaii.

The bian­nual fes­ti­val had its hum­ble be­gin­nings among smaller groups of Toke­lauans in the 1970s in Welling­ton. It has grown to the point where a na­tional body has been es­tab­lished – Mafu­taga Tupu­laga Toke­lau I Niu Hila (MTTNH).

The 2006 New Zealand Cen­sus iden­ti­fied around 6819 Toke­lauans liv­ing in New Zealand, the ma­jor­ity in the Porirua area.

MTTNH pres­i­dent Charles Kalolo Pate­le­sio says the theme this year is ‘‘Mai na matua, mo ki tatou, kin a fanau – Learn­ing from yes­ter­day, liv­ing to­day and hope for to­mor­row’’.

‘‘The world is chang­ing but this fes­ti­val is our com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing our Toke­lau com­mu­nity is sus­tain­able as a cul­tural haven, that in­spires the younger Toke­lauan gen­er­a­tion to main­tain their cul­ture and iden­tity,’’ he says.

Fes­ti­val project man­ager An­to­nio Pate­le­sio says this year is the 40th an­niver­sary of the cel­e­bra­tions.

‘‘These fes­ti­vals show­case Toke­lauan cul­ture, lan­guage and sport­ing tal­ents. This year there is a stronger fo­cus on youth.’’

The fes­ti­val will be­gin with the ar­rival of teams and fam­i­lies on Thurs­day. Many of the teams will be hosted at the var­i­ous halls, churches and camps around Porirua.

Fri­day will bring an open­ing cer­e­mony; meet­ings, net­work­ing, mix and min­gle ac­tiv­i­ties through­out the day.

‘‘Satur­day is when the ac­tion be­gins,’’ says Mr Pate­le­sio. Mana Col­lege grounds will host rugby and tag tour­na­ments, there will be net­ball at the Mun­gavin Ave courts, while Te Rau­paraha Arena will host the vol­ley­ball tour­na­ment.

Cul­tural dance per­for­mances will be the fo­cus of Satur­day night, fol­lowed by a com­bined church ser­vice on Sun­day and an arts and com­mu­nity expo at Te Rau­paraha Arena. Sports fi­nals and prize­giv­ing will be on Mon­day.

Fes­ti­val com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fi­cer Cather­ine Mu says peo­ple through­out the coun­try and over­seas have been prac­tis­ing and train­ing for the tour­na­ment.

‘‘There is a def­i­nite buzz around Porirua and our groups are rar­ing to go.’’

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