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Samoan influence grows at Pasifika festival

Posted at 11:33am Monday 12 Nov, 2018

After being represented at the Pasifika Festival for the first time last year, Samoa will bring five items to the stage at this year's event.

The festival, which has run for five years, will take place at Mahurangi College on Saturday, November 24.

It incorporates a number of Pacific Island families that live in the Warkworth area and is a celebration of culture with cuisine, language and dance.

Three years ago, Rudy Saleupolu and Peter Meafou attended the festival and saw there was a space that needed to be filled.

“I went along and there was no Samoan representation, so I didn't feel part of the Pacific Islands group,” Rudy says.

“Peter approached me after that and said we should bring Samoan culture to the show, so I started running classes teaching children how to perform.”

The classes started early last year and are run weekly at the Presbyterian Church in Warkworth, with around 20 people participating.

Rudy says there was strong interest from the start for the classes, with children coming to learn the language and dance.

“Samoan dance is similar to that from other islands, but we are known to be very happy people, which bring plenty of smiles to a show.”

Peter says there are over 20 Samoan families in the area and that the classes provide a meeting place for them, as does the festival.

“The journey of learning the performance items for the event is really important because it lets our Samoan families interact with each other,” Peter says.

Taugataoloa Martha Farmer is a Samoan-born Warkworth resident who helps with classes and attends the festival.

“Teaching children to perform from a young age is a big part of the culture so it's nice to see that happening here,” she says.

“The festival is a wonderful chance for our people to feel part of a group under the Pacific Islands umbrella, but also to share Samoan culture with palagi people from the area.”

The festival starts at 3pm and is entry by donation, or $5 if you wish to sit at the front in the VIP section.

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