Festival shares Pacific Island culture, food

Main menu


Festival shares Pacific Island culture, food

featured image

The colors, flavors and sounds of the Pacific islands came to life in Dunedin for a day as a proud community shared their culture at the Moana Nui Festival.

Based at Forsyth Barr Stadium, the festival gave Pacific Island communities their own “village” space to share their culture with the public on Saturday.

It also had a large stage for performers.

Organized by Pacific Trust Otago, the event was held for the first time last year.

Each village showcased what the individual community was proud of and offered unique foods and products to purchase.

Dunedin Tonga Community President Paranite Taungapo said he wanted people approaching his village to feel like they were in a pure Tongan space.

Tonga is known as the friendly islands. He wanted people to feel that when they came to the stall.

He was dressed in red and was proud to wear a taovara, a woven mat around his waist.

A variety of traditional dishes were available, but people’s needs had to be catered for with more popular island foods such as Tongan donuts and chop suey.

Litea Ikahihifo of Tokelau village said food is an important part of their culture and they rarely get the chance to share it.

Poké and Meakai were part of the food available at the stalls.

A variety of headpieces called fufu were available in Niue villages.

Zak Manukuo, one of the people who work at the village stalls, said Dunedin doesn’t have a huge island community and it felt great to be given a space to share with the city.

Malcolm Breward of Wantoku Village said it’s a really cool format for the festival because it provides a way for small communities like him to showcase their culture.

There were various seashell necklaces and island crafts on display, all made in the “old fashioned” way.

People could come to hear about handicrafts and wantok culture.

They also brought some canned fish from the island available for purchase.

Samoan villager Sandra Matafa said it felt like being back on an island as each group proudly showcased their culture and food.

This year, Tangata whenua and Te Hokohoko village for all Maori have been added.

Village representative Amie Curtis said their stalls follow different naming conventions because their village represents a wide variety of indigenous Maori people.

“Tehokohoko” literally means “buy and sell”.

She said it was a wonderful and colorful event and it was great to be recognized as part of the festival.

There was a stage at the eastern end of the stadium where the group would perform throughout the day.

Josery Rereiti, one of Kiribati’s performers, said it was great to be able to showcase our cultures on stage.

Even though I was a little nervous, I was proud to perform in front of everyone.

Event manager Stacey Cocaua said she was really proud of how everything went.

The festival was held for the first time last year, and while it went well at first, there was some concern that it was a fluke.

Not only was her fear proven wrong, but each community stepped up the game, providing entertainment and food throughout the day.

Not only was it a showcase for the masses, but it was also a way for the people of Pacifica to learn about each other’s cultures.

“I really think we recreated the space of the Pacific in one day.”