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Screen grabs from last year's jam-packed celebration.

Photo/ASB Polyfest


49th ASB Polyfest theme reflects on both it's long history and the cultures involved

With the 49th ASB Polyfest around the corner, director Seiuli Terri-Leo Mau'u speaks on it's legacy and what it means for the generation of today.

Vaimaila Leatinu'u
Aui'a Vaimaila Leatinu'u
23 February 2024, 12:12pm
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The 49th ASB Polyfest director says this year's reflective theme honours the histories of the festival, its performers and the cultures involved.

This year's theme is "me anga whakamuri kia koke whakamua", or looking to your past to determine your future.

With ASB Polyfest turning 50 next year director Seiuli Terri-Leo Mau'u says its lifespan is a testament to the community and student contributions.

"It's the reason why it's so successful and been going for so many years," she says.

"It's not something that belongs to me or my organising committee, it's something that belongs to our community."

The historic festival's near half a century lifespan started in 1976 by Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Ōtara, formerly known as Hillary College with the intention of revitalising Pacific culture in Aotearoa.


With only a month to go before its 49th celebration, Mau'u is also looking forward to how the schools will tackle the theme of looking back.

"It's encouraging them to go back to their mamas and papas," Mau'u says.

"Talk to them about the things that are important that you need to remember now as you journey through life and getting to know who you are."

What is ASB Polyfest?

ASB Polyfest is a cultural festival where Auckland secondary students present their cultures to audiences over four days, with school groups competing to be named the best performers on their respective cultural stages.

Rehearsals with volunteer tutors typically start seven to eight weeks ahead of the event outside of school hours.

The six stages represented include Māori, Sāmoa, Tonga, Niue, Cook Islands and the Diversity category, in which last year included Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania.

Additionally, leading up to this year's fair the Student Leaders Conference held a two-day event with over 150 Pacific pupils engaging in workshops, speech and video competitions, and the popular dance challenge.

Marcellin College student leaders Grace (left) and Vanessa. Photo/Candice Ama/PMN News

Mau'u says preparations have been focused on building anew and navigating shifts such as changing stage positions.

"This year it's been good, a lot of support and interest but at the same time we've also had a lot of challenges.

"We're still resetting from everything that we've gone through with Covid and the floods last year.

"We're really thankful for the sponsors that have stuck by us especially through the hard times in our history."

Despite focusing on recuperating, Mau'u says the festival continues to grow as over 200 groups have registered across 60 schools.

"We're excited to see the numbers growing. There's definitely more than last year."

Important tips for fairgoers

She says a free livestream will be available for those who cannot make it and people can download their Polyfest app for more information.

"It can tell you where the stallholders are so you can get you 'otai and your keke pua'a.

"It also has the programme schedule so you can know who's performing when and where."

Mau'u asks those planning to head into the festival to bring their pride for their schools and families but to "leave the competition on the stage".

"We're really proud of all our students and those who have registered."

She also has practical tips for everyone attending as MetService predict a dry spell on the week of the event.

"Please come and be prepared to stay hyrdrated while you're at the festival. Be patient when coming through the gates as Boundary road gets busy.

"If you're carpooling that might be even better or use our local community around the festival to park.

"Just be prepared when you get there it's going to be awesome."

Online tickets are $7.5 whereas gate tickets will be $10.

Tickets for the event are available via iticket or their official site, and will be held between 20-23 March at the Manukau Sports Bowl.

Watch the full interview via PMN Tonga's Facebook page below:

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