Weekend Herald

Pacific drums beat again


Pasifika, one of the most popular and lively events in the Auckland calendar, returns this weekend after two years of disappoint­ing cancellati­ons — and for the first time at Mt Smart Stadium.

There has been much anticipati­on for the festival after the past two events were called off, firstly because of the Christchur­ch shootings of 2019 and then for the Covid-19 lockdown last year. But those upsets will be set aside today. The drums of the Pacific, once a feature of Warriors games at Mt Smart, will be heard again as nine island cultures come to life in the eight festival villages through traditiona­l and contempora­ry dance performanc­es, live music, storytelli­ng, fine arts, crafts, food and market stalls.

Even the weather is expected to play ball with conditions familiar to the islands. The outlook is for high humidity with the slight chance of a shower and moderate northerly breezes — carrying greetings and warm wishes from Pacific homelands.

Pasifika will take place under alert level 1 and be staged in line with

Ministry of Health Covid-19 guidelines. Festivalgo­ers are encouraged to scan in using the QR code at the main gates and to have the Bluetooth tracing function switched on. QR codes will be prominentl­y displayed throughout the venue.

Hand sanitiser stations and a Covid-19 Sani Squad will be available as well. Anyone who is unwell or displaying any Covid-19 symptoms is urged to stay at home.

In the early 1990s, former NZ Herald Pacific affairs reporter Roy Vaughan worked with community leaders such as Cook Islands Consul General Bill Te Ariki and Reverend Leuatea Sio to bring together Pacific communitie­s, churches and leaders around an idea of a “South Pacific Week”. The first festival in 1993 was a joint initiative between the newly formed South Pacific Island Nations Developmen­t Associatio­n and the then-Auckland City Council, to celebrate and share Pacific Island cultures and bring Pasifika communitie­s together.

Malo lava, talitali lelei, fakaalofa atu, Bula, kia orana, nau mai, welcome back Pasifika!

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