Mayor: Polyfest shows 'essence' of Auckland
The world's largest Maori and Pacific Island festival has been launched in style tonight at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
The 38th annual ASB Polyfest is an opportunity for students to celebrate and share their cultural heritage with the public.
Nine thousand students from 59 schools across the Auckland region will take part in the upcoming festival, which runs from March 13-16 at the Manukau Sports Bowl.
The festival's patron, Mayor Len Brown, launched the event with an emotional speech.
"These are the days when I know I love our city unreservedly," he said.
"Polyfest is an amazing story of growth and a wonderful display of the essence of our city, which is the largest Pacific city and the largest Maori city in the world."
Event director Theresa Howard said participating in the 2001 festival as a student herself gave her a sense of pride and confidence in her Samoan and Maori heritage.
"Through discipline and under great guidance, I learnt about leadership, being humble and understood what my own culture is about."
The festival has Maori, Tongan, Samoan, Niuean and Cook Islands stages, as well as a "Diversity Stage" showcasing a range of other cultures.
This year sees Manurewa's James Cook High School take up the role of head school or kura matua.
The theme the school has selected for this year's festival is ''The gifts of Papatuanuku are a koha to the people. Cherish and care for them''.