As the world’s biggest festival celebrating the Pacific arts, Pasifika showcases the unique culture, music, fare, fashion and sporting prowess of 11 island nations.
Chosen for: Preserving Culture and Driving Diversity.
This vibrant festival has a 30-year history of celebrating the nuanced and varied cultures of 11 Pacific Island nations including: Aotearoa (New Zealand), the Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawaii, Niue, Samoa, Tahiti, Tuvalu, Tonga, Tokelau and the Solomon Islands. Originally conceived back in 1993 by journalist Roy Vaughan, who was inspired to do so after his time as The Herald's Pacific Affairs reporter, the festival was developed into a permanent fixture by a group of community leaders representing the various Pacific nations, who recognised the need for a dedicated event to celebrate the rich tapestry of island cultures that span the region.
The event draws in around over 60,000 visitors each year, offering attendees the opportunity to explore each island nation represented as villages laid out within the festival grounds of Western Springs Park. Each village hosts a performance stage for music workshops, dancing and theatre performances (be warned: participation is encouraged, with festival-goers regularly being plucked from the audience to get involved). Alongside the stage areas are marketplaces with stall holders selling handcrafted items and delicious, homemade fare, including classics like pineapple pie or lairo crab curry.
The festival has evolved over the years, looking for new ways to expand its representation of different Pacific communities and developing its programming to platform various subcultures, whether that’s through curating fashion shows or staging sporting events. Taking place in March this year, the event’s line-up already includes the Pasifika Village Games – where teams will compete in touch rugby and netball events – and Pasifika Soul Sessions, a day of smooth, soulful music. What makes this event distinct is its success in creating a collaborative and intergenerational experience, designed to connect those of Pacific heritage from across the region and platform their pride in sharing their unique talents with one another. The event is, first and foremost, about encouraging a sense of unity within the Pacific Islander community, and secondarily about sharing it with outsiders.
Pasifika Festival takes place at Western Springs Reserve in Auckland, New Zealand, on 18-19 March 2023.