14 Apr 2021

Polyfest: The largest Pacific event in the world is back

12:01 pm on 14 April 2021

The world's largest Pacific dance festival kicks off in Auckland today after two years of disruptions.

Flag raising ceremony

Flag raising ceremony Photo: RNZ Pacific/Dominic Godfrey

Covid-19 caused the cancellation of Polyfest last year, while the year before it was cut short by the Christchurch terror attacks.

Hundreds gathered this morning at the Manukau sports bowl, the ground which will host the event for next few days of competition. The official part of Polyfest began with prayer, a flag raising ceremony and then a Powhiri.

Tangata whenua welcome manuhiri

Tangata whenua welcome manuhiri Photo: RNZ/Mable Muller

The Auckland schools' Māori and Pasifika dance festival Polyfest will light up the Manukau Sports Bowl from today with music, song, dance and speeches from across Te Moana Nui a Kiwa.

Last year's pandemic-appropriate theme of "Healing the body, mind, spirit and soul with the strength of culture" continues.

Powhiri for Polyfest 2021

Powhiri for Polyfest 2021 Photo: RNZ/Mabel Muller

This year will see a revised format to allow for more space and social distancing.

On its 45th anniversary the festival this year has one less stage, but students will not miss any performance time with a revised format.

Manuhiri welcomed onto Manukau Sports Bowl for the start of Polyfest 2021

Manuhiri welcomed onto Manukau Sports Bowl for the start of Polyfest 2021 Photo: RNZ/Mabel Muller

Polyfest culminates in its biggest day on Saturday.