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Moana Nui Festival.

The home of the Highlanders was transformed into Pacific cultural grounds for the Moana Nui Festival.

Photo/ Pacific Trust Otago Facebook Page.

Language & Culture

‘It’s magic!’: Moana Nui Festival attracts thousands to Dunedin for cultural celebration

For the third time the Moana Nui Festival brought together Dunedin’s Pacific community in a celebration of culture.

Matt Manukuo
Matt Manukuo
25 March 2024, 2:27pm
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Thousands of locals flocked to Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium for the third ever Moana Nui Festival, provided by Pacific Trust Otago.

The home of the Highlanders was transformed into Pacific cultural grounds, with ten different stalls representing the many Pacific communities in Dunedin.

Moana Nui Festival coordinator Ma’ole Faletolu says the event was extremely important for the small city and its Pacific people.

“I guess if you come down here, you’ll never see so many brown faces in one place. That’s just how it is here in the South Island, but what this festival’s shown is that we’re growing!

“A lot of this is community led, and that’s what makes it special, makes it feel a lot more authentic. It’s just awesome to have this platform to come together.


The festival invited Pacific peoples from around the lower South Island, with attendees from areas like Christchurch, Oamaru and Invercargill present on the day.

Forsyth Barr Stadium was the perfect venue for the Moana Nui Festival.

Among the attendees was Deputy Mayor for Waitaki and General Manager of the Oamaru Pacific Community Hana Halelele, who says the festival is great to shine light on the communities in the deep south.

“It’s a huge privilege, it’s a fantastic opportunity to bring our Pacific and wider communities here to enjoy the Pacific food, fun and entertainment. And making sure our Pacific values are embedded in the community here in the south.

“It shows we need a lot more visibility on a lot of the initiatives for our community providers, we’re diverse, we’re connected and we love to do our things in the South.”

Reflecting on the three years the festival has been running, Pacific Trust Otago deputy chair Dr Losa Moata’ane says the festival has only gotten better.

“It’s absolutely amazing! I’m so thrilled for our people, it’s the third time and I think it’s third time lucky! We’re getting bigger, better every year so it’s absolutely amazing.

“I think we started with about three thousand (people) the first year, second year about five/six and this year we’ve hit the ten thousand mark.”

Moata’ane says the community relations has been the key driver for the event's success.

“I think it’s Pacific Trust Otago and it’s relationship with the community, and the wider sector, key stakeholders. Places like the University, MSD, MPP and government departments.

“I think what we have done is justified and that we should continue to do this, and it’s important for the city of Dunedin and the wider Otago region.

“It’s important for everybody to know who we are, what we do and also how we support each other so hopefully we continue getting support so this event can thrive.”