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Rain, good food and some grumbles

Report #4 from LOOP correspondent Sarah Hunter, in Noumea with the New Zealand Pacific Island delegation for the Pacific Festival of Arts.

An aboriginal group did a rain dance last night and sure enough, it's raining. In fact, on Tuesday there may be no performances 'cause its soaking wet time. But hey, the rain dance was cool!

The kapa haka crew went on last night on the dirt space in front of the stage and there were heaps of people there. Noisy hot and the kapa haka let loose with dirt and dust swirling and flying.

Before that the NZ delegation had a hangi for invited guests from other delegations and Kanak reps and that was the best feed most have had since being here: familiar beers – Tui, Steinlager, DB – vodka, gins, etc; heaps of fresh fish on the barbeque and whole snapper to complement the evening's kai of pork and veges and salads. A party night – ah!! Made taking photos of the kapa haka a bit dodgy (whoops, too slow stylee).

In fact yesterday was an all-round choice day, 'cause Libby from Radio NZ lent some of us her Parkroyal card, which got us free kayaks and silly plastic paddle boats and deck chairs on the beach. We had the best time.

Here's hoping the Tahitians are still doing their feed at midday. The delegations are taking turns at putting on the kai, but I have managed to miss them so far.

Final week; kinda weird to think it's all over soon. Some of the PI delegation returned home today, everyone else is off Saturday and Sunday.

The raruraru with organisers has been incredible. They have so totally underestimated the event and its impact, demands, etc, yet we heard on the grapevine that the budget was like $NZ86 million! People are thinking, like wah! where did it all go?

The programming was the first hiccup – the printed programme discarded long ago – then the lack of technical support, communication, transport, and the dodgy food (slop food, huge lack of fresh fruit and vege) has made many of the performers sick, stressed, and pissed off.

This is the richest nation in the Pacific and the treatment of Pacific peoples here by the French has left a sour impression for many. Probably a reflection of how the French view the Kanak people.

But hey, in between you get moments of bone tingles as you check out some more dance, suss out new faces, find new flavours – so we still got our motto: when in Noumea, just hang loose...

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