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Polyfest strengthens student’s spirits

Rylie’s Lesoa & Sinah-Lei Lauaki

Polyfest is an annual, four-day event held in Manukau’s Sport Bowl that showcases traditional dances, music, and songs from different Pacific Island cultures from Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Niue, and Māori.  It caters for 100,000 visitors each year and involves a competition for secondary schools in Auckland, aimed at showcasing cultural identity and bringing schools of different cultures together. The competition involves brackets of song and dance, where schools can display their talents and compete against one another.

Our kapa haka were very lucky to have the opportunity to visit this special event during March 2024. While we weren’t performing on the Polyfest stage, we were fortunate to be able to perform a haka tautoko for Sacred Heart College. This was a special moment and was made even more special by having some of our International Students who had joined kapa haka during their stay to haka alongside us.

We then split off into our groups to explore a variety of cultural foods, traditional art and clothing with detailed cultural designs, and more performances. My group went to the food stalls and, after being spoilt for choice, we chose delicious Samoan food. We also purchased the iconic Polyfest straw hats, which came in handy when watching diverse performances on the stage, participating in activities for free gifts, and of course, enjoying more food.

Polyfest provided us with a unique experience and exposed us to multiple cultures. We learned and enjoyed various performances, kai (food), artwork, and community during our time at Polyfest. Although we didn’t want the fun to end, it was time to say goodbye to Polyfest and return to kura (school), where we all gathered at the Māori stage to conclude our trip.