Polyfest kicks off

01:18, Mar 12 2014
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2014 ASB Polyfest host school Western Springs College perform at the powhiri opening of the festival.
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Patricia Filipi, left, and Renne Nofaiga from Massey high School enjoy a meal during the first day of the ASB Polyfest held at the Manukau Sports bowl in South Auckland.
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Sione Talilotu takes shelter from the sun during the first day of the ASB Polyfest held at the Manukau Sports bowl in South Auckland.
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The Manurewa High School Middle Eastern Dance Group in action .
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Selwyn college students in action during the first day of the ASB Polyfest held at the Manukau Sports bowl in South Auckland.
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Selwyn College supporters cheer in the crowd during the first day of the ASB Polyfest held at the Manukau Sports bowl in South Auckland.
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Dilworth School students, Ivan Faddy, left, and Hiwa Hopa perform during the first day of the ASB Polyfest held at the Manukau Sports bowl in South Auckland.
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Epsom Girls Grammar Indian Dance group during the first day of the ASB Polyfest held at the Manukau Sports bowl in South Auckland.
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Polyfest 2014 once again has attracted thousands of visitors from across the city.
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Stephanie Harris pictured from Pukekohe High School.
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Polyfest 2014 once again has attracted thousands of visitors from across the city, great food is one of the many reasons.
Polyfest
Polyfest 2014 once again has attracted thousands of visitors from across the city.
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James Witana from Sacred Heart
Polyfest
Polyfest 2014 once again has attracted thousands of visitors from across the city.
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Cecilia Sakalia from McAuley College takes part in Polyfest.
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Trent Harris from Sacred Heart College takes part in Polyfest.
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Tai Lindsay from Sacred Heart takes part in Polyfest.
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Polyfest 2014 kicks off once again at the Manukau Sports Bowl in South Auckland attracting thousands of visitors from across the city.
Polyfest fri 1
Polyfest 2014 kicks off once again at the Manukau Sports Bowl in South Auckland attracting thousands of visitors from across the city.

It's back and it's bigger than ever.

The world's largest Polynesian and Maori festival kicked off today at the Manukau Sports Bowl.

The 39th annual ASB Polyfest opened with a flag-raising ceremony and powhiri.

More than 9000 students from a record 62 schools from all over Auckland are taking to the stage at the festival, which runs until Saturday, before an expected audience of about 100,000.

That's a huge growth from the inaugural festival in 1976, when just four schools took part.

The festival was officially opened by kaumatua Eru Thompson and a performance by host school Western Springs College.

Mayor Len Brown says this year is ''historic'' for Polyfest with a record number of schools taking part.

''It gets bigger and better each year,'' he says.

''The Polynesian spirit is the heart and soul of this place.

"This year's theme is ''Care for our seas and our lands so that the safety of our home, both present and past, endures forever''.

The 2014 ASB Polyfest takes place from March 12 to 15 at the Manukau Sports Bowl, 1 Te Irirangi Drive. Entry is $5, preschool children free.Go to asbpolyfest.co.nz for more information.

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