“ASB Polyfest is back” – that was the resounding sentiment at the Manukau Sports Bowl yesterday on the opening day of the 2021 ASB Polyfest.
The four-day event runs until Saturday April 17.
The festival has overcome two years of disruption, with last year’s festival cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the final day of the 2019 festival cancelled following the Christchurch mosque tragedy on March 15.
Students and stakeholders were overjoyed that the iconic festival is back up and running, with the MCs and performers speaking regularly on stage yesterday about how “grateful” and “privileged” they were that the ASB Polyfest was back on, despite the Wednesday rain.
The 2021 ASB Polyfest was opened by the Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff in heavy rain. He referenced the weather and the return of the ASB Polyfest in his opening address saying, “A terror attack and a pandemic did it, but we’re not going to let rain stop us in 2021.”
Festival director – Seiuli Terri Leo-Mauu said, “We’re on. Rain or shine, ASB Polyfest will persevere, we’ve been resilient this far, so a little rain won’t hurt us.”
Leo-Mauu said, “We are really excited to have the festival under way after last year’s Covid-19 cancellation. There’s still a lot of uncertainties and anxiety out there but at the same time it’s overcome by the resilience of these kids, and the community around the ASB Polyfest. It’s great to get the students back on stage, in a safe manner.”
Polyfest Trust chairperson Robert Solomone added, “the disruptions over the past two years have been a real test for everyone involved, but we have emerged more resilient, thankful, hopeful and excited about what 2021 signifies for our ASB Polyfest community.”
Yesterday’s rain didn’t damper the enthusiasm or excitement of being back at the ASB Polyfest. Head girl of Papatoetoe High School, Rhonda Nguyen said – “it’s really good to see everyone can come back and celebrate culture again.”
The AUT Cook Islands Stage, Unitec Diversity Stage, Te Whare Wanaga o Awanuiarangi Maori Stage continue today. The University of Auckland Samoan Stage speech competitions today in their native language. They are sponsored this year by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.
Tomorrow sees more dances and drumming from the Pacific Islands with the MIT Niue Stage, University of Auckland Samoan Stage and Massey University Tongan Stage in full swing.
This year’s festival theme, which has been retained from last year, is “Mā roto mai i te Ahurea whirikoka, ko te whakaora tinana, hinengaro, wairua me te ira tangata” – Healing the body, mind, spirit and soul with the strength of Culture”.
Leo-Mauu said, “This theme is more relevant than ever, given the challenges that ASB Polyfest has faced over the past two years.”