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Prime Minister attends ASB Polyfest this afternoon


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

The four-day festival started with a special flag-raising ceremony, followed by the festival Powhiri where the festival guests (manuhiri) were welcomed by the hosts (Tainui & Pacific Island leaders), and an official opening by the Mayor of Auckland - Phil Goff.

This afternoon, the ASB Polyfest welcomes some special guests to the Manukau Sports Bowl with the Prime Minster – Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and the Minister for Pacific Peoples – Hon Aupito William Sio attending the 44th Anniversary of the festival from 2:30pm – 3:30pm this afternoon.

The Prime Minister and Minister for Pacific Peoples will visit the TWWoA Maori Stage and Unitec Diversity Stage during their festival walkabout, meeting some of the 12,000 students that will grace a festival stage during the four-day duration.

234 school groups will take to one of festival’s six stages this year. From its small beginnings 44 years ago where four schools took part, the ASB Polyfest has developed into one of Auckland‘s largest events, with 66 schools entering groups this week.

One stage that has seen huge growth is the Unitec Diversity Stage, which accommodates groups outside the festival’s traditional Maori, Cook Islands, Niuean, Tongan and Samoan performance categories.

82 groups will hit the diversity stage this year, representing 22 different cultures. Indian is most popular culture represented with 14 groups, followed by Chinese, Fijian and Filipino with eight groups each, and Korean with seven groups.



Interesting entrants on the Unitec Diversity Stage today include a Turkish group from St Cuthbert’s College at 11:20am, a Malaysian Group from Epsom Girls Grammar at 1:15pm, and a Punjabi group from Mt Roskill College at 3:15pm.

Stage co-ordinators Sarah Woods and Ranee Prasad say: “the Unitec Diversity Stage accepts all cultural groups that fall outside the Maori and Pacific Island stages, giving them the opportunity to showcase who they are and where they come from at the ASB Polyfest. The huge growth in the stage represents the changing cultural face of Auckland.”

Today also sees 14 kapa haka groups on the Te Whare Wanaga o Awanuiarangi Maori Stage from 8:30am –4:30pm to complete the Division 3 competition.

The AUT Cook Islands Stage, M.I.T. Niue Stage, University of Auckland Samoan Stage and Massey University Tongan Stage host speech competitions today in their native language. This year’s speech competition is sponsored by the Ministry of Education.

ASB Polyfest 2019 takes place at the Manukau Sports Bowl from Wednesday 13 March to Saturday, 16 March. Entry is $5, with pre-school children free of charge.

The overall theme for this year’s festival is –

The blood of the ocean flows through me

My sustenance, my nest of higher learning, my navigator

I am the living essence of the ocean

the living essence of the ocean is me”

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