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Record-Breaking ASB Polyfest starts today

Record-Breaking ASB Polyfest starts today

The world’s largest Maori & Pacific Island Festival – the ASB Polyfest starts today with a special powhiri at the Manukau Sports Bowl.

This year’s event has attracted a record 222 performance groups from 62 schools, performing on one of six stages over the festival’s four-day duration.

The number of perfomers at this year’s festival is remarkable when one considers that only four schools - Seddon High School (now Western Springs), Aorere College, Mangere College and Hillary College (now Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate), took part in the inaugural festival in 1976.

A special powhiri will start the festival at 9am today where the festival guests (manuhiri) are welcomed by the hosts (Tainui & Pacific Island leaders). Mayor Len Brown will be present at the Following the official part of the day, the Manukau Sports Bowl - will be alive with Maori & Pacific Island colour and culture, with 10,000 Auckland students proudly performing kapa haka and traditional Pacific dance, while competing for trophies and the honour of being the best school group.

In looking at the role that the festival now plays for secondary school students, Event Director Theresa Howard said – “the ASB Polyfest provides the opportunity for students and their school communities to come together early in the school year, to learn and share their ideas on interpretation of culture through song, speech and dance.”

For Maori & Pacific Island communities, Theresa Howard said – “The ASB Polyfest helps provide a sense of community. Acknowledging that our City is multi-cultural, the festival allows us to enjoy sharing in each other’s customs and traditions. ASB Polyfest this gives the public an opportunity to learn and experience what this is.”

The Hapai Te Hauora Maori Stage will feature thirteen schools performing kapa haka today, from 11:30am – 6:30pm. Entries has increased to such a degree that today the stage schedule starts earlier than in past years, and the powhiri has been reduced in length.

The other stage in action today is the MIT Diversity Stage. This stage has grown dramatically over the last couple of years with 67 groups performing over the next two days. There were twenty-nine groups on stage today including a Middle Eastern performance from Manurewa High School, a Tuvaluan performance from Massey High School and a Mongolian group from St Cuthberts College.

The 2014 ASB Polyfest takes place at the ASB Sports Bowl from Wednesday, 12 March to Saturday, 15 March. Entry is $5 with pre-school children free of charge.

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