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Details announced for ASB Polyfest 2021

ASB Polyfest 2021
Photo: ASB Polyfest

The world’s largest Polynesian festival will finally get to celebrate its 45th anniversary this year. ASB Polyfest, the Auckland Secondary Schools Māori and Pacific Islands Cultural Festival, will take place from 14-17 April at the Manukau Sports Bowl, Auckland.

Polyfest was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak and in 2019 was cut short in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks. Robert Solomone, Chair of the Polyfest Trust, says the past two years have been a time of reflection and an opportunity to consider new possibilities for future Polyfest events.

“We are pleased to announce that we will be holding the 45th ASB Polyfest event in 2021 with a few changes, such as the timing and format of the event,” says Solomone.

“We will operate four stages instead of six, combining the Pacific Island and Diversity stages which will have two days allocated to each, while the Māori stage will take place over four days.”

The revised festival layout will allow more space for stallholders to spread out and social distancing for attendees. Students will not miss any performance time, with the new format seeing the Niue Stage sharing with Diversity Stage, Tongan Stage share with the Cook Islands Stage, Samoan Stage sharing with the speech competitions, and Māori Stage hosting its three divisions over the festival’s four day duration.

The festival theme from last year has been retained: “Mā roto mai i te Ahurea whirikoka, ko te whakaora tinana, hinengaro, wairua me te ira tangata. Healing the body, mind and soul with the strength of Culture”.

“This theme is more relevant than ever, given the challenges that the ASB Polyfest has faced over the last two years,” says Festival Director Seiuli Terri Leo-Mauu.

“Retaining the theme also allows students to re-purpose the performances and costumes from last year if they choose, or add new elements this year.”

Solomone thanked festival stakeholders for their support during the challenging circumstances of 2020.

“We thank ASB for their enduring commitment to the festival, as well as our strategic partners, government ministries, grant funders, Auckland Council, and sponsors who honoured their sponsorships last year despite the last minute cancellation.  We also thank our schools, stallholders and contractors for their patience and support as we worked through the ramifications of last year’s cancellation.”

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