Hawaii comes to Pasifika
Aulii Mitchell has Hawaiian hula in his blood.
He was just 6 when his great-grandfather, grandfather and mother started teaching him the traditional dance and his passion for it has continued to grow ever since.
The dance relates to tales of love, war, travels and the wonder and beauty of the Hawaiian islands, Mr Mitchell says.
"It's special to me because it's my identity.
"It's who I am. It's why I was put here on this earth," he says.
Mr Mitchell is excited to be village co-ordinator and cultural advisor for the first ever Hawaiian village to be set up during the annual Pasifika Festival at Western Springs Park this weekend.
The country has been represented at the festival for the past decade or so but was previously incorporated into other villages.
Traditional and contemporary hula will feature through the weekend and there will be performances from dance schools throughout the North Island.
Mr Mitchell is studying Hawaiian hula for a masters programme in applied indigenous knowledge at Te Wananga O Aotearoa.
The hula group he teaches, Halau O Moananuiakiwa, will also perform at the festival.
Around 20 traditional practitioners of Hawaiian arts are coming to Auckland for the event.
Activities include the art of lei making, bamboo stamp printing and learning how to prepare poi - a Hawaiian staple made by mixing water with taro root which is boiled and then pounded to make a paste.
Those involved in the village will perform a chant of gratitude each hour and hand a sheet out so visitors can take part.
"It's a chant to come together and celebrate as well as to give thanks to our ancestors and the gods," Mr Mitchell says.
There will also be food stalls with Hawaiian fruit, smoothies and yoghurt and craft booths selling shell necklaces and earrings, bags, T-shirts and hula outfits.
Mr Mitchell says many people wrongly believe that Hawaiians are westernised.
"We don't identify with Western life. We are very much our own people," the 53 year-old Mt Albert resident says.
The Pasifika Festival is delivered by ATEED and supported by Fairfax Media, owner of the Central Leader.
Go to aucklandnz.com/pasifika for more information.
- Central Leader
Are our classrooms becoming overcrowded?