Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
West-Aucklanders were met with the warm festivities last Saturday for the 2022 Melanesian Festival. The first of its kind ever to be celebrated showcasing the beautiful islands of Melanesia such as Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.
Director of the Melanesian Festival Joana Monolagi says the feedback from the festival has been very positive and she is grateful for the compliments she had received from the community.
“From the people I’ve spoken to and that have come to me sharing their feelings and views that it’s been a long time coming. That they have been praying and waiting for an event like this to showcase Melanesia.”
The event was hosted by PMN Fiji Language producer Nemai Vucago. Nemai says the event was a boost for the festival’s celebration of diversity.
“It was just beautiful to see all the beautiful faces of the Pacific, not just Melanesia but really Micronesia and Polynesia, the south Pacific was represented there. Our beautiful Melanesian people.”
“The festival was a vibrant turn out, gathering all the many Melanesian communities from across Tamaki Makaurau. It was exceptional and truly wonderful.” Nemai adds.
Stallholder Julia Mage’au Gray proudly displayed her arts and crafts with her stall called Melanesian Marks.
“Here we have set up to introduce the public to the Papua New Guinean tradition of facepaint and ‘Hand Poke’ and ‘Hand Tap ” markings.”
The artist assisted in applying traditional facial paint for the day’s performances. “So proud of these ladies that choose to wear their mark’s every day to honour whānau. These marks are made to dance with.” Julia Said.
Bernadette Loloselo organised and choreographed a cultural dance troupe representing the Solomon Islands.
“These dancers were a collaboration for friends and family members”. Invoking the importance of keeping their cultural dances alive here in Aotearoa. She says.
Festival goers were spoiled with a variety of sales from cultural artworks, Melanesian branded goods and traditional food stalls from each respected island.
Musical acts included legendary Fijian musician Georgina Ledua, Sassy and Fiakal.