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ASB Polyfest underway today

Wednesday 15 March, 2017

ASB Polyfest underway today

ASB Polyfest, the world’s largest Maori and Pacific Island festival, got underway today at the Manukau Sports Bowl in Auckland.

The ASB Polyfest is a celebration of youth performance and cultural diversity and will feature 220 performance groups from 60 schools over the next four days, performing speeches, kapa haka and traditional Pacific dance.

Officially, ASB Polyfest started this morning with a special flag-raising ceremony at 7:00am. This was followed by the festival Powhiri at 8:00am where the festival guests (manuhiri) were welcomed by the hosts (Tainui & Pacific Island leaders).

The Powhiri featured a haka powhiri performed by the festival’s Kura Matua Schools (hosts of the Maori Stage) – Kelston Girls College, Nga Puna O Waiorea & Te Kura Kaupapa Maori Hoani Waititi Marae, and Mayor Phil Goff was in attendance.

Following the morning’s ceremony, the Manukau Sports Bowl will come alive with Maori and Pacific Island colour and culture, with more than 9,000 Auckland students taking to the festival’s six stages throughout the festival.

ASB Polyfest has become a key annual event for secondary school students with ASB Polyfest event director Theresa Howard saying – “It’s a great way for students to develop leadership, creativity and teamwork skills. There is nothing like it.”

ASB head of community, sponsorship and events Mark Graham is looking forward to seeing spine-tingling performances and meeting many Auckland-locals across the four-day ASB Polyfest event this week.

“With more than 9,000 student from across Aucklands taking part, ASB Polyfest 2017 will be a wonderful cultural event for people of all ages. We’re looking forward to meeting students from different Polynesian cultures and seeing the colourful and truly remarkable performances on each of the six stages,” Mr Graham says.

“ASB began its sponsorship of Polyfest more than 33 years ago and we’re thrilled to remain a big part of the festival today. As one of our longest and most-treasured partnerships, we are proud to support ASB Polyfest,” Mr Graham says.

The first day of the ASB Polyfest 2017 sees the Te Whare Wanaga o Awanuiarangi Maori Stage host ten kapa haka groups in Division 3 from 10am – 4pm.

The NZMA Diversity Stage runs from 12noon to 5pm with thirty-two groups from a range of cultures taking to the stage. The stage has several entry’s today from Avondale College (Fijian, Thai, Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Sri Lankan), Epsom Girls Grammar School (Indian, Malaysian, Chinese, Thai, Sri Lankan, Japanese, Korean) and St Cuthberts College (Indian, Chinese, Mongolian, Korean, Tibetan, Thai).

The Pacific speech competitions also get underway today. This year’s speech competition has topics based around road and transport safety. Students on the Tongan, Samoan, Cook Islands and Niue Stages are asked to speak in their native language, addressing the following questions -

Year 9 and 10 (Juniors)

· My active journey to and from school

· What makes a safe cyclist?

· Why is road safety so important?

· How can we encourage more people to use seat belts?

· Safer roads - safer pedestrians

Year 11 to 13 (Seniors)

· Why progressing through the graduated Drivers License is important?

· Transport choices and challenges in Auckland

· Encourage my community to take road safety seriously

· What is the wider impact of poor road safety decisions?

· Adult wearing rates of seat belts is declining - why?

ASB Polyfest 2017 – the numbers

ASB is proud to celebrate 33 years of support for the ASB Polyfest this year.

· This year’s festival theme is: “Nurturing leadership through culture”.

· The numbers:

· 220 performing groups,

· from 60 schools across the Auckland region,

· with more than 9,000 students competing.

· Students will compete in traditional song, dance and speech on one of six stages - Cook Islands, Maori, Niue, Samoan, Tongan, and the Diversity stage which features cultures such as Chinese, Fijian, Tokelau, Indian, Korean and Sri Lankan.

· Students have practised hard for months with after school rehearsals and weekend practice camps, while tutors and family have prepared their costumes.

· There will be more than 125 stalls selling traditional Polynesian foods across the four-day festival.

· Last year, one stall alone sold 7,200 pineapples (14,400 halves).

· ASB Polyfest organisers are expecting more than 90,000 guests across the festival.

The ASB Digital Poi
New to ASB Polyfest this year is the ASB’s DIGI POI, an electronic take on the traditional Maori poi. The poi lights up/flashes as it’s moved, creating all sorts of intricate, island-style patterns in the dark.

The digital pois will be based in the ASB area and Polyfest visitors will be given a chance to dance with the pois, and create their own video with the option to upload onto social media.

There are six 30cm-long ASB digital pois to play with. These are the first of their kind in New Zealand.

ASB Polyfest 2017 takes place at the ASB Sports Bowl from Wednesday 15 March to Saturday, 18 March. Entry is $5, with pre-school children free of charge.

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