Students ready for Polyfest
Tiresa Euta and Paerata Robati say celebrating Porirua’s different cultures and hearing the roar of the crowd are just two reasons why Polyfest is such a big event on the city’s calendar.
Aotea College is hosting the festival – official name Northern Regional Polynesian Festival – at Te Rauparaha Arena on July 31.
Tiresa and Paerata are among more than 100 Aotea students who are rehearsing three times a week in the lead-up.
The school, along with opening the event with a powhiri and haka, will have five groups performing on stage during the day, representing Tokelau, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and a kapa haka group.
Tiresa, who will be on stage for the first time, said it was a big responsibility hosting Polyfest, which this year will incorporate Porirua’s 50th birthday in its Polynesian flavour.
For her, Polyfest is the biggest event she will take part in during her school year.
‘‘We need to be communicating with other schools and making sure the day goes smoothly,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s a great way to promote Aotea, show off the pride we have and build those relationships with ethnic groups, inside and outside the school.
‘‘We [students] might have been born in New Zealand, but our parents teach us about our home in the Pacific and that’s their gift to us, so we need to show off those values.’’
Tiresa said there was healthy competition among the groups at Aotea and with other schools to put on the best performance, but Polyfest was not so much about who was the best, as it was about having fun and representing your culture.
Aotea College assistant principal Jamie O’Connor said Polyfest was a big undertaking for the hosts.
More than 100 students from his school will take part, another 600 from other schools in the Porirua basin and Newlands College will perform, and spectators will easily number more than 2000 throughout the day.
Aotea College Pacific liaison Sharon Faletutulu said preparation and rehearsal for Polyfest brought out the best in students, staff and parents.
‘‘This festival has been around for a few years now, so it’s not hard for the school to grasp what needs to be done,’’ she said.
‘‘The arena is a great venue and the noise and colour as our young people celebrate their culture is what it’s all about.’’
Paerata will be performing at his third Polyfest and said each time was special.
‘‘It’s a real good vibe and you want to give it your all and do your best on stage. You always feel pumped up with all the noise and cheering,’’ he said.
Aotea College’s Paerata Robati in full flow at last year’s Polyfest.