Popularity of annual Polyfest sees growth continue again

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YEAR on year Murihiku Polyfest has grown in popularity, and this year is no exception.
Co-ordinator Pauline Smith said Polyfest had been extended from a four-day festival last year to a five-day festival this year to accommodate the growing number of groups wanting to participate.
This year 122 groups had registered to perform, up from 106 last year, and an audience of more than 20,000 was expected.
Polyfest provides young people from early childhood centres to senior secondary school kapa haka groups the opportunity to perform and celebrate the Maori and Pasifika cultures.
The festival was all about participation, which was perhaps why numbers had swelled over the years, Mrs Smith said.
‘‘[The audience] can expect to see really excited kids enjoying their performance for family and friends. It is a really positive, uplifting and joyful experience.’’
The organisers, the Maori and Pasifika Cultural Trust, had been approached by Stopping Violence Southland and ACC wanting to provide funding and support, Mrs Smith said.
‘‘It is nice to work with organisations which have a similar philosophy about doing good in the community.
‘‘We like that connection. [It]…tells me people can see value in what we are doing and want to support it.’’
Rockdale Park Kindergarten has participated since the festival’s inception in 2009.
Head teacher Tracey Blackburn said the children ‘‘just loved it’’ and it was an opportunity for them to learn about another culture.
The experience also helped grow children’s confidence and was an opportunity for families to get involved and help make costumes and teach the children songs, she said. Í Polyfest Cultural Festival, ILT Stadium Southland, August 29-September 2, 9am-3pm, entry by koha/gold coin donation. Evening performances August 31 and September 1, 6.30pm-9pm

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