29 Feb 2024

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With excitement building for the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts (FestPAC) in Honolulu, Hawai'i in June, the New Zealand delegation will participate in nationwide roadshows next week to gear up for the event.

The 85 artists, performers, and cultural experts from Māori and Pacific communities that make up the Aotearoa New Zealand delegation are set to impact the global stage at this four-yearly event. 

Delegation members will come together for three engagement sessions in Waikato, Tāmaki Makaurau, and Te Whanganui-a-Tara from 4 – 6 March. These gatherings mark the first opportunity for the delegation to come together, understand their roles, and set expectations ahead of the Festival.

Co-leading the delegation are members of Creative New Zealand’s Komiti Māori, Bonita Bigham, Kura Moeahu and Puamiria Parata-Goodall, who are keen to outline the importance of FestPAC as a platform for building cultural exchange and collaboration.

Bonita Bigham says that the delegation's goals go beyond individual artistic achievements, "This opportunity offers our ringatoi and Aotearoa so much more than just attending this festival.

“There will be ongoing development and evolution of critically endangered art forms like tāonga pūoro and tārai waka, exploring career advancement opportunities internationally, and most importantly, building and strengthening intercultural relationships with our whanaunga from across Te Moananui a Kiwa.

“FestPAC is the catalyst and conduit to ongoing opportunities for all artists and nations in attendance.”

Kura Moeahu says preparing the next generation is an important part of the FestPAC kaupapa. "We are dedicated to ensuring that the voices of rangatahi are prominently represented in FestPAC discussions. Our Youth Ambassadors, Poroaki Merritt-McDonald and Annafinau Tukuitoga Ponita represent youthful talent and cultural pride. They will play a key role in transferring the outcomes of FestPAC back to their communities.”

Under the theme "Ho’oulu Lāhui," which translates to "regenerating Oceania to thrive and flourish," FestPAC 2024 will focus on voyaging and regeneration.

“Participating in FestPAC offers a rare opportunity to showcase whakairo to the world and engage in meaningful discussions about preserving and revitalising traditional art forms," Beaumyn Wihongi, a delegation member representing whakairo, says. "Being able to pass on to the next generations is where my passion lies, I love to share knowledge, teaching rangatahi the stories of our tūpuna is paramount."

Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, tohunga waka and member of the 10-man waka crew representing Aotearoa, says their participation aligns with the FestPAC theme. "Our involvement extends beyond the waka flotilla. We plan to engage in practical waka activities with waka whānau across Oahu.”

The FestPAC programme will feature a waka festival with a Wa’a arrival ceremony on Wednesday, 5 June, a day before the official opening, showcasing a parade of nations, a festival village, art markets and expo, symposiums, and conferences before the festival closes on 16 June.

For media inquiries, whakapā mai ki au, lynette.amoroa@creativenz.govt.nz or 021 928 553