A call for young people to step up

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The ASB Polyfest has created a leadership event designed to empower, encourage and support students. This follows safety concerns following a series of brawls which broke out at the time of the event last year. 

ASB Polyfest organiser Seiuli Terri Leo-Mauu says, "For our rangatahi I really want to them to leave as a whānau, that when they get to Polyfest that it's all friendly competition, that they know each other, that it's safe that they can say, 'hey bro I met you at the leaders day', so it's just about taking those skills back but at the same time creating that network."

ASB Polyfest are also discussing safety issues after police expressed disappointment over at least two brawls associated with Polyfest last year.

One of 100 students selected to participate in the student leadership program, Shanaya Irving says, "Being more confident and open-minded, friendly, just goes a long way to other people that we're around to make sure that everyone knows everywhere is a safe place everywhere can be a safe place." 

A video of two fights was also posted on Facebook during the festival last year, including one showing girls fighting and being dragged by the hair.

District Pacific LIaison Officer Romeo Chungson says, "Essentially around safety and enjoying the festival for what it is and ensuring that we're not having a repeat of some of the incidents that place towards the end of the festival from last year."

Seiuli Terri Leo-Mauu says," We want to equip them and get them ready for Polyfest but it's bigger than that, it's all about getting them ready for what's to come in the world once they leave school, once they leave the familiar buildings that they have been going to in the last eight years you know it's all about getting them ready for the big world." 

The ASB Polyfest will be held in March, with the aim to make it a safe and enjoyable experience for all.