Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Rotorua celebrates 10 years of Pasifika Festival

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Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

Community group continues to grow Pasifika event in the central North Island.

A peaceful close knit community with a strong connection to its local board, council, iwi leaders and Pasifika community is how people have described what makes Rotorua unique.

And it was in this spirit that the community came out in full force to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Rotorua Pasifika Festival.

Organisers from the Rotorua Pacific Islands Charitable Development Trust (RPICDT) pulled out all the stops for their tenth birthday held at the Village Green Park in the heart of the city. 

From its humble beginnings when the festival was held in a small part of the park for only a few hours to now a ful,l bonafide festival.  

Trust Chairperson Chris Simanu says he never imagined the organisation and festival would grow as fast as it has. 

“I’ve been up and down the breadth of the country but being Samoan it’s about being able to come together with my community to be able to relate to other communities and just be one Pasifika family on one, day one special day,” he says.

“Big ups to our team who worked hard over the last few months especially from last year on and having quite a diverse bunch of staf;f we’ve got about 25 staff at the moment so we’ve grown in the last five years so we’re really happy and even looking forward to growing even further in the next coming years.”

CEO Mata Mafileo says the festival is an important part of the Pasifika identity in Rotorua.

“We really want to continue to provide the event and since it started we had no funding… and you know we would love to move from having just the one stage to more… and we want to invite more of our schools to connect with us and if we can engage with the out of town schools and communities like the region, I think that’s what we’re looking at.”

Trust board member Joji Bilivalu says Rotorua has embraced the Pasifika community and the contribution it makes to the city.

“It’s about empowering our people… so we are looking at the next generation coming through, we are just trying to emphasise to our community here, look after yourselves, get educated and you know the world is your playground to grow,” he says.

According to the 2018 census, Pacific people make up around 4.5 percent of the district population alongside a large Maori and palangi community.

Melita Peato who hails from Tokelau is a long time resident of Rotorua. She says Rotorua is her home away from home and showcased her Tokelau  arts and crafts at the festival.

“I just thank God for being here in Rotorua, I believe it’s good, very important so that we can meet the families, meet the friends, to be with people, the community,” she says.

“It’s my home town. We came from Tokelau to Rotorua, nearly 30 years. We live in Rotorua and never go anywhere else, we go visit family but we live in Rotorua.”

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