Pacific celebrated at Dunedin festival

Otago University graduate and health coach Ilai Elekana Manu, with
...
Otago University graduate and health coach Ilai Elekana Manu, with (left) Milan Hakai (7) and Niututo’atasi Malae (10) took part in a demonstration of Tokeleauan traditional wresting at the Moana Nui Festival at the weekend. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The colour and vibrancy of Pasifika returned in style at the inaugural Moana Nui Festival in Dunedin at the weekend.

Eric Nabalagi, of Dunedin, performs in a Fijian warrior dance during the Moana Nui Festival at...
Eric Nabalagi, of Dunedin, performs in a Fijian warrior dance during the Moana Nui Festival at the Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
The lively event, which attracted several thousand people to Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday, included dance, music and other presentations involving nine Pacific cultures.

Among the many activities were a Cook Islands drumming demonstration, a Samoan presentation, Fijian games, weaving from Tonga and coconut milk making and songs from wantok nations.

Food and craft stalls were also operating.

The festival began with a 10am welcome and prayers and ran until about 5pm.

It was held by the Pacific Trust Otago and supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, the Dunedin City Council and Dunedin Venues.

Trust general manager Finau Taungapeau said the festival gave a chance for Dunedin to experience and celebrate the Pacific cultures and communities of the city.

Mrs Taungapeau said the successful event was the first of its kind and the biggest  held in the city since a Pacific Expo at the Edgar Centre in 2007.

She hoped the festival could be repeated regularly in future.

Among the many festival participants was University of Otago graduate, traditional wrestler and health coach Ilai Elekana Manu, of integrated health, education and social services provider Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora.

He and a group of young people that he co-ordinates gave a demonstration of traditional Tokelauan wrestling.

He said that the revival of this style of wrestling helped strengthen cultural identity and also provided significant physical and mental health benefits.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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