More Tokelauans descended on Porirua during Easter than currently reside in the small Pacific Island nation, in a festival that celebrated all things cultural and sporting.
An estimated 5000 people were in attendance from all over the country, with the biennial event now a far cry from its humble beginnings in 1972. A national body has even been established to aid in its organisation – Mafutaga Tupulaga Tokelau I Niu Hila (MTTNH).
Around 6900 Tokelauans live in New Zealand, the vast majority of these in this region.
There was a youth focus at this year’s festival, the theme being ‘Learning from yesterday, living today and hope for tomorrow’.
MTTNH president Charles Kalolo Patelesio said, ‘‘ 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.’’
In brilliant weather, Mana College hosted rugby league, rugby and tag, the Mungavin courts held netball and there was volleyball at Te Rauparaha Arena. Cultural dance performances, meetings and other events were also held, with visitors hosted at various halls, churches and camps.
Mana MP Kris Faafoi, who is of Tokelau descent, said the weekend was ‘‘full on’’ and he loved being part of it.
‘‘I really enjoyed it at a family level too, catching up with people I hadn’t seen for a while. The atmosphere was brilliant and all the sport was played in a good spirit.’’
Pacific Island Affairs Minister and Mana-based List MP Hekia Parata congratulated Porirua for embracing the festival. Being strong in language, culture and identity has a positive effect on educational achievement and community wellbeing, she said. ‘‘One in four New Zealand-born Tokelauans speak their heritage language and the festival is an opportunity to increase that.’’
Big hits: Taniela Tavite makes a surging run for his Hutt Valley B side during their defeat of Porirua B.