Pasifika comes to town

Many Kiwis turn their minds to the Pacific Islands at this time of the year as a watery sun plays peakaboo with grey-weary eyes.

But the Pacific comes to the Regent on Broadway today and tomorrow with Pasifika Fusion.

Thirteen schools are taking part in the secondary schools Pacific festival, including Tararua  College competing for the first time and two schools from Whanganui and one from New Plymouth.

The festival has been going for eight years; this year's theme is ``threats to the Pacific''.

The categories are speeches, cinematography/film, debating, essay writing, writing/poetry, cultural performances, talent, wearable arts, visual arts and media/skit.

St Peter's College has a 35-strong contingent in the festival.

The whole group will perform a Samoan sasa, which is led by Natasha Seiuli  a role denoted by pink rather than red feathers in her hair.

Natasha, 14, joined St Peter's this year.  Some of the students will perform two Tongan dances  the girls the tau'olunga and the boys kailao.

Sulieti Asi will be busy over the two days. She is delivering a speech in Tongan about the loss of culture when Tongans move to other countries and one in English about how bullying can lead to depression.

Sulieti, 16, is also part of the all-girl debating team and an island reggae singing group. For the talent section she will perform a multicultural hula.

Born in Tonga, Sulieti came to New Zealand when she was 5. She speaks fluent Tongan, the language spoken at home, and for last year's festival wrote the lyrics for a Tongan song which she also choreographed.

The St Peter's contingent is led by Lano Taulani and Tapu Tanginoa, both 17.

Lano, a New Zealand-born Tongan, will lead the Tongan boys' dance and drum for the sasa, while Tapu is part of the debating team and will led the girls' dance.

Even though Teisa Laumape is only 14 she is an experienced Pasifika Fusion participant; the year 9 student has taken part since year 7.  

She will read her poem The Wave Goodbye, about how families became separated in the Samoan tsunami.

Teacher in charge of Pasifika, Jill Lynch, said the festival gives students a sense of pride in their cultural heritage and is about developing leadership, involvement and building relationships. 

Fusion's concert is at 6pm, tomorrow, June 28, at the Regent on Broadway. Adults $8, under 12s $2