Milestones at this year's Polyfest

16:00, Mar 13 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
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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 a celebration of firsts and milestones at this year's ASB Polyfest.

The 39th event has attracted a record 62 schools - a huge growth from the inaugural festival in 1976, when just four schools took part.

Adding to the excitement of the four-day competition is the much-anticipated appearance of Prime Minister John Key.

It's the first time in about two decades that a sitting prime minister has visited Polyfest.

Mr Key is scheduled to attend and speak at a function this afternoon before going behind the scenes at the Tongan stage.

A special powhiri started the festival on Wednesday morning, where guests were welcomed by Tainui and Pacific Island leaders.

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Mayor Len Brown said this year is "historic" for Polyfest with the record number of schools taking part.

"It gets bigger and better each year," he say.

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

Wednesday also saw the start of the first competitive diversity stage performances, a category that hasn't been officially judged until this year.

A total of 67 groups from 19 different cultures performed on the diversity stage, with South African, Hawaiian and Serbian groups featuring for the first time.

Tomorrow, the last day of the festival, will see several big rivals battle it out for the top prizes.

James Cook High School will be seeking to upset Western Springs College in its bid for three consecutive division one titles on the Maori stage, while Mangere College will defend its overall title on the Cook Islands stage from 2012 winners Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate.

ASB Polyfest is taking place at the Manukau Sports Bowl, 1 Boundary Rd. Entry is $5, preschool children free. Go to asbpolyfest.co.nz for more information.

Manukau Courier