Polyfest is back! And schools have already descended on Manukau Sports Bowl to compete in the country's biggest secondary schools' Polynesian festival.
It was cancelled in 2019 in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks and then shut down last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The four-day event started this morning at sunrise with a flag-raising ceremony conducted by Tainui kaumātua. Kura Matua host schools (Kia Aroha College, James Cook High School) and the other Mana Kura host schools (Alfriston College, Aorere College) and members of the community joined Tainui kumātua to officially open the festival with a pōwhiri.
Director of the festivals Māori Stage, Hammond Matua, says the event can now go ahead and do what it is meant to, to bring young people together through culture.
"Whakakao mai te rangatahi ki te wāhi kotahi."
(The gathering of young people at one place).
45 years of Polyfest
The ASB Polyfest, Auckland Secondary Schools Maori & Pacific Islands Cultural Festival, is in its 45th anniversary year.
And the theme for this year couldn't be more appropriate after two years of cancellations: "Mā roto mai i te Ahurea whirikoka, ko te whakaora tinana, hinengaro, wairua me te ira tangata." (Healing the body, mind, spirit and soul with the strength of culture).
"I roto i ōnā whā tekau mā rima tau i pūawai ake te whakaaro i tētahi o ngā tauira o te kura tuarua o Hirere Kāreti kia whakakao mai, whakakotahi mai, kaua ko te Māori anahe.
"Heoi anō, toro atu ngā ringa ki ngā ahurea o Te Moananui ā Kiwa kia whakanui, kia pūawai ngā ahurea nō ērā mautere tae noa mai ki a tātou te Māori."
(Forty-five years ago a student from Sir Edmund Hillary College came up with the idea for a gathering, not just for Māori. So they reached out to the Pacific community to celebrate and uplift all cultures as well as Māori).
The festival now sees students compete on five stages, performing traditional items from the Aotearoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga. Students from a range of other cultural groups including Fijian, Tokelau, Chinese, Korean and Indian compete on the Diversity stage.
To watch the event live, click here for more details.