Polyfest: World's largest Polynesian festival kicks off today

By Rahia Timutimu

The largest Māori and Pacific Islands Festival in the world kicks off today.  The ASB Polyfest is one of the most iconic Auckland festivals and this year celebrates its 44th anniversary.

In 2018, the Manukau-based event attracted approximately 108,000 people.  More than 12,000 student performers in 241 groups from Auckland-based schools attended the four-day festivities.  

This year, high school students will compete on six different stages- Māori, Cook Islands, Samoan, Niue, Tongan as well as a Diversity Stage which brings together cultures including Chinese, Sri Lankan, Fijian, Indian, Korean and Indian.  Students from all cultures perform on stage with the hope of being honoured as the top school in representing their culture.

Not only is it a big week for the performers, it's also a major week for stall owners who return to the event every year.  Adjoining each cultural village and stage are crafts and food stalls, which also attract hungry spectators.

The theme for this year’s ASB Polyfest is –

"Koropupu te toto o te moana i ahau,

koia ko toku oranga, toku whare wananga, toku pouarahi,

ko au ko te mauri o te moana,

ko te mauri o te moana ko au”

                                        

“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”

Parts of the ASB Polyfest will be live streamed on maoritelevision.com, click here for more information.