THERE are several firsts planned for the Murihiku Polyfest this year.
The five-day cultural festival will see thousands of young performers take to the stage this month to celebrate Maori and Pasifika cultures.
Murihiku Maori and Pasifika Cultural Trust manager Pauline Smith said so far, 124 groups had registered to perform at Polyfest, but several more were expected. Last year the event attracted 125 groups, amounting to 6683 performers.
Mrs Smith said as soon as registrations opened, the organisers just sat back and watched the registrations flow in.
“It booked itself. People are so tuned into the event, they just book their spot.”
For the first time, Stewart Island’s Halfmoon Bay School and Wanaka School would take part, which was exciting, she said.
Also for the first time, tickets were being sold for the Rangatahi Toa, the evening performance on Thursday, rather than a gold coin donation as in previous years.
Mrs Smith said the costs associated with running Polyfest had increased and the funding scene was “tough” at present, so making the evening performance a ticketed event would help offset costs.
Trust co-ordinator Tania Carran said having a paying audience would also “uplift” the evening performance and give it a “showcase feel” for the pupils performing.
Another new feature of the festival this year is the introduction of A Taste of Polynesia, a cultural food and craft market being held on Saturday, August 26.
Miss Carran said about 40 stallholders had been confirmed for the market so far.
In addition to the food and craft stalls, there would be cultural performances from community groups and live demonstrations, including a carving demonstration by Invercargill carver Steve Solomon and a painting demonstration by Invercargill artist Greg McDonald, she said.
The theme for this year’s Polyfest is Celebrate the Environment, or Whenua ki uta, whenua ki tai.
In line with the theme and for the first time, Environment Southland (ES), one of the major sponsors of the Community Art Exhibition held in conjunction with Polyfest, is sponsoring a special environmental award valued at $250.
ES had committed to continuing sponsorship of the award for the next four years, Mrs Smith said.
Murihiku Polyfest, at ILT Stadium Southland, August 21-25, A Taste of Polynesia, at ILT Stadium Southland, August 26, 9am-3pm, free entry, Community Art Exhibition, Southland Museum & Art Gallery, August 18-November 3. For more information and to book tickets for the Thursday performance, go to murihikupolyfest.co.nz.