The world’s big­gest Toke­laun fes­ti­val


Porirua will be play­ing host to the big­gest gath­er­ing of Toke­launs in the world this Easter.

Toke­lau Porirua As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Alex Pate­le­sio said up to 10,000 Toke­launs were ex­pected to de­scend on the city for the Mafu­taga Tupu­laga Toke­lau Fes­ti­val.

‘‘Porirua is the cap­i­tal of Toke­lau.

‘‘There’s more Tokes out­side their home­land and most of them in New Zealand live in Porirua.

‘‘We have peo­ple com­ing from as far away as Hawaii.’’

With a 45-year his­tory, there was no other event that brought the four atolls, or is­lands, of Toke­lau to­gether, he said.

‘‘It will be the sixth time Porirua has hosted it - if we can’t do it, no­body can.’’

Mi­gra­tion be­gan in earnest in 1966 when a scheme was hatched to move most of Toke­lau’s pop­u­la­tion of 1835 to New Zealand.

The fes­ti­val be­gan in the early 1970s as rugby com­pe­ti­tions be­tween the Toke­lau mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.

In 1979, the first of­fi­cial Easter fes­ti­val was held in Porirua and it was the first one to in­clude women with the sport of net­ball added to the pro­gramme.

While the orig­i­nal fes­ti­vals were based firmly on sports, they now in­cluded much more of the Toke­laun cul­ture, Pate­le­sio said.

‘‘It’s about cel­e­brat­ing who we are and where we came from and mak­ing sure that our cul­ture is still rel­e­vant in the mod­ern world.

‘‘There’s a dis­con­nect be­tween the New Zealand-born kids and the cul­ture they came from.’’

Na­tional pres­i­dent An­to­nio Pate­le­sio said the four-day fes­ti­val was great for Porirua’s econ­omy.

‘‘There’s a lot of peo­ple to be fed and housed over that time, which will fil­ter into busi­nesses.’’

Rugby, bas­ket­ball, vol­ley­ball and net­ball games would be held around the city, with the fes­tiv­i­ties based at Te Rau­paraha Arena, he said.

Any­body with Toke­laun blood, mar­ried to a Toke­laun or who was ‘‘Toke­laun by as­so­ci­a­tion’’ was wel­come to at­tend.

‘‘As Toke­launs be­come more and more wide spread and mixed with other cul­tures it’s im­por­tant we have th­ese fes­ti­vals.

‘‘They’re al­ways full of long lost Toke­launs find­ing each other.’’

Ac­cord­ing to the 2013 Cen­sus there were 7173 Toke­launs in New Zealand and 2007 in Porirua.


Koloi Pate­le­sio, cen­tre, leads Porirua Col­lege’s Toke­lauan group for Polyfest 2013.

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