Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

2024 Polyfest – Pioneer calls event growth ‘beautiful, amazing’

Polyfest pioneer and Cook Islands stage director, Tupou Manapori. Photo: Torika Tokalau/Stuff
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Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

A pioneer of the ASB Polyfest can’t believe an event that started with just four schools, has grown into the world’s biggest secondary school cultural competition.

Day two of Polyfest got underway at the Manukau Sports Bowl in south Auckland on Thursday, with more performances and speech competitions.

Sitting quietly by the Cook Islands stage, observing the speech competition from young New Zealand-born Cook Islanders, was Tupou Manapori.

Photo: Torika Tokalau/Stuff

Fondly known as Mama Tupou, she was a teacher at Hillary College (now known as Sir Edmund Hillary College) in 1976, and was one of those that pioneered Polyfest.

Back then, only four schools took part. Now in its 49th year, the 2024 Polyfest hosts 239 performing groups from 69 schools.

It’s now heralded as the biggest secondary school cultural dance festival in the world.

“It’s amazing, really beautiful to see it grow and come this far,” Tupou said.

Photo: Torika Tokalau/Stuff

She’s the longest serving member in the organising group, leading the Cook Islands stage, and is determined to stick around for as long as she can.

“I’ve got so much to offer, I am passionate about language and culture and it’s right here, with these kids that we need to impart our pride and knowledge to.

“We started small and we’ve learnt along the way … we’re still learning. But we do this so our children, especially those born in New Zealand, can learn about where they came from.”

The second day of the festival saw 11 kapa hapa groups perform on the Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi Māori stage, and 40 groups perform on the diversity stage.

Kelston Boys College Fijian group was one of the last to perform on the diversity stage.

Kelston Boys High School’s Fijian group. Photo: Torika Tokalau/Stuff

The group, led by Waisale Rabuka, Junior Rauluni and Maika Bari, were clad in Fijian warriors outfit, and brought the crowd to its feet.

“We’re not doing this for a prize, we just came out to have fun,” Rauluni said.

“If the boys are happy, we’re happy.”

The Samoa, Niue, Cook Islands and Tonga stages open on Friday.

Partly funded by Auckland Council through its regional events grant, the 49th ASB Polyfest takes place from March 20–23.

Local democracy reporting



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