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Otago Polyfest needs volunteers

The call is going out for support for the 26th Otago Polyfest, a five-day event enjoyed by an audience of more than 12,000 and one of the country’s largest volunteer-run community events.

The region’s biggest festival of Māori and Pasifika cultural performance will be held at the More FM Arena in the Edgar Centre from Monday 9 to Friday 13 September.

The festival relies on commitment and enthusiasm from thousands of pupils, teachers and whānau and a dedicated volunteer crew. Volunteers are well looked after – and many return year after year for this unique experience.

Festival Director Gina Huakau says “Otago Polyfest is powered by our generous and dedicated community – the festival doesn’t happen without our kaimahi. We still need to grow our volunteer teams for 2019, so please sign up for a morning – or the whole week!”

The festival has launched a Givealittle campaign this year (“Love Otago Polyfest”).

“We have a record 158 groups performing this year,” says Ms Huakau. “With growing numbers come increased production costs, but we are keeping the entry fee at $2 so Polyfest is accessible to everyone. To do that we need koha from those who can support us.”

The festival opens on Monday evening, starting at 5.30pm. The mornings are mostly early childhood services, with primary school groups performing in the afternoons. This year groups are expected from Ōamaru, Cromwell and South Otago. Senior primary and secondary school groups perform in the evening sessions. Monday and Thursday evenings present the region’s most accomplished secondary school groups.

A key aim is to promote te reo Māori and Pacific languages, and the festival coincides with Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.

The entry fee is $2 per session. The organisers suggest people give themselves plenty of time to park and get a seat. The timetable may run a little ahead, or behind schedule, and the doors to the arena are closed during each performance.

Te Mana Āhua Ake Charitable Trust which oversees Otago Polyfest is grateful for the ongoing support and generosity of funders including the Dunedin City Council, Lottery Grants Board, Bendigo Trust, Otago Community Trust, Te Taura Whiri, Pasefika Proud and Kotahi Mano Kāika. The Trust is also grateful to its suppliers including Strawberry Sound, Bramwells, the Edgar Centre, Southern Lights, SPS Security, and The Video Factory, who all work hard to ensure the event is a premium offering. A large number of supporters provide funding, kai and services in kind, such as Ribbonwood Nurseries, Megazone, Mercy Hospital and Hungry Pixel Designs.

Information stalls are staffed by organisations that support Polyfest, such as the NZ Police, NZ Fire Service, Otago Polytechnic, the University of Otago, Arai te Uru Whare Hauora, and the Department of Corrections.

Anyone interested in attending this unique cultural showcase is very welcome – nau mai, haere mai.

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