Friday, March 14, 2014

The day of the Amazing Race has arrived…

Up bright and early, down for breakfast, luggage stored, picnic lunches collected, group photos taken and onto the bus bound for the ASB Polyfest!  
A very special start to the day was birthday greetings for Tania! 

Today we are using the hashtag #corepolyfest.  The laughter, singing and chanting on the bus ride out to the venue is AWESOME!  Arriving at the venue I begin to get an idea of the immensity of this event?  

I am using my programme to share the background of the festival with you!

This is the 39th year of this event, with the theme “Care for our seas and our lands, so that the safety of our homes, both present and past endures forever.”
Today’s event has its origin in 1973, the vision of student’s Michael Rollo and Mata Roele, who along other students, and staff who wished to share the student’s pride in their culture and identity as well as bringing students together across the cultures.   This developed into an annual event held around schools until 1977 when Mangere College hosted the event and it was split into competitive and non-competitive sections.  By 1981 there were 26 school groups and 2 stages.  By 1995 it moved to the Manukau veledrome with stage areas for the different cultures and to cater for public visiting and parking. This year more than 10,000 students perform across 6 stages.
The festival has a strong spiritual life force, te Mauri.  “Take only what you need, share the rest, respect the limits, protect the basis of wealth.  Pass onto Mokopuna a world at least as good as we have received.”
This 39th festival began with the raising of the flags at 7am on Wednesday the 12th of March and concludes on Saturday the 15th
The stages are:
Maori Stage
Cook Islands Stage 
 Diversity Stage
 Niue Stage
Samoan Stage
Tongan Stage

So, off the bus we got! In our teams, armed with our amazing race challenge we set off to explore, listen, look, feel, and gather snapshots of the day through interviewing students, performers, teachers, parents, stall holders and audience.  We even managed to record in an interview with members of the police and a politician! What an incredible way for us to all benefit from the gathered snapshots.  As well as this we had challenges to perform, tasks to complete, photos to take and chants to perform!  What an incredible experience.  In our teams we were privileged to work together, share, learn and grow together!  We were able to visit all the stages, sample the foods, and soak up the atmosphere. There was also time for retail therapy.  Clearly identifiable in our team lavalava, we were able to connect with CORE fanau throughout the venue!

As I reflect on the term Pasifika, I am increasingly perplexed at the ‘collective’ term, which has in my mind, blended or clumped the cultures together as opposed to celebrating the language and identity of each culture.  I now feel empowered to ask and identify the journey of the learner and encourage them to share their story!  The richness and diversity of today’s polyfest has truly shown some of the similarities, and identified some of the unique and very, very special difference!

All too soon it was time to gather at the gate and await the bus.  What an exhausted, weary, sun soaked, culturally rich bunch we are!  The bus trip back to base was a much quieter affair as we settled in, relaxed and reflected on the day.   Back in the Kauri room we had the privilege of ‘trying’ to verbalise our experience in our poroporaki, and recording it in our written reflection on the day.  It was a very emotional thank you and farewell to our stunning hosts for the past two days!
To CORE Education, for the embracing of our cultures, for the opportunities, the experiences, and the privileges, a HUGE thank you!
To Ruta, Manu, Togi, Shannon, Anthony and Teanau… Talofa lava, from my heart and mind, thank you for an unforgettable experience.  I am a far richer person today, than the one who arrived on Wednesday and I am forever grateful to you all!  My challenge to myself now, is to grow my learning. I must commit to use my experiences and grow them. 


  1. Malo lava Anne! Thanks so much for being a part of the experience - because without you and our peers who identified that they wanted to know more, we would not have been able to deliver a programme that you all ultimately designed (we just had to deliver our best!). Definitely plenty more opportunities to connect in the future and even in our own little Pasifika CoPs. Love your work, malo le eva uso :-)

    1. Thank you Manu! I am still buzzing from the experience and about to write my second reflection... Loved seeing you on Tangata Pasifika today, thanks to Sonya sharing the link. Also loved to talk about you with Natasha Low who was in Dunedin today for a wedding. We had a couple of hours to catchup and chat!