Hawai’i prepares for world's largest pacific cultural festival

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Full preparations are underway in Hawai’i as they prepare for FESTPAC 2020, the world's largest pacific cultural festival. With 28 different pacific islands invited to the event, including over 100 from Aotearoa, Hawai'i commissioner Mehanaokalā Hind says it is an opportunity to unite, share and grow individually and collectively as pacific island nations.

What began in 1970 has expanded to be the biggest pacific cultural festival in the world, and this is the first time Hawai'i will host the event. 

“Our people, our state, our communities are incredibly excited for this opportunity to host our pacific cousins here in Hawai'i," Hind says.

The festival itself will span 11 days and will take place across various venues in Honolulu, Oahu, showcasing different aspects of the respective cultures, including art, music, dance, clothing, oral history, voyaging and much more. 

In addition to the cultural presentations, each nation will also engage in meaningful discussions, ranging from sustainability and rising oceans to education and gender equality; an aspect of the festival that Hind says has a lasting effect on participants.

“Every single person that I know that has participated from my homeland has been changed.

"They've all had experiences that have connected them deeper to their own cultural practice and have also connected them to their family relations throughout the pacific," she says.

Te Matatini 2018 winners Ngā Tumanako will be one of the attendees from the Aotearoa delegation, alongside others such as Rangi Kipa (toi Māori) Atamira Dance Academy and Qiane Matata-Sipu (photography).

Hind said she was excited to see the union of Māori and Hawai'ian culture, in what she describes as "some mean kupuna action."

"I'm so excited to see Ngā Tumanako here in Hawaii, we follow Te Matatini closely.

"There were so many of us here in Hawai'i who were watching it on the livestream and are so excited for that particular group and all your practitioners," she says.

The event begins on 10 June.