The ASB Polyfest features traditional music, dance, costume and speech and is now recognised as an important showcase of New Zealand’s diverse cultures and a celebration of youth performance.
Students will compete on five stages, performing traditional items from the following cultures – Cook Islands, Maori, Niue, Samoan and Tongan. There will also be a Diversity stage featuring performances from a range of cultural groups including Fijian, Tokelau, Chinese, Korean and Indian.
On March 12th the festival opens with a flag raising ceremony conducted by Tainui Kaumatua, Stage Representatives and the host school. This ceremony takes place at sunrise on the raised ground overlooking the Maori Stage.
Following this the Powhiri (official welcome) is the most significant part of the festival since its beginning in 1976. Traditionally the process served to discover whether the visiting party was friend or foe. It is the formal welcoming of guests (manuhiri) by the hosts (Tainui and Pacific Community leaders). As the ceremony progresses the tapu or sacredness surrounding manuhiri is removed and they become one with the manuhiri(visitors). Once the Powhiri concludes the Mauri (the sacred pink stone – gifted by the people of Pare Hauraki – Ngati Marutuahu – Tainui Waka), is taken from the powhiri to each of the stages by the Host School to perform a blessing.
The stage performances and speeches start thereafter.