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Wednesday, 24 April 2019 03:45 pm

Pasifika festival is set to be clean and green

By FETU TAMAPEAU and BRENDA COTTINGHAM

BEING eco-friendly is crucial for the Pacific Islands with the effects of global warming – and the annual Wellington Positively Pasifika festival will be leading the way this year.

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ECO-FESTIVAL: Ida Faiumu-Isa'ako.

Festivities to be held this Saturday at Waitangi Park from 9am to 5pm will celebrate Pacific culture with contemporary and traditional performances as well as traditional Pacific food.

New safety and hygiene standards introduced by Wellington City Council require food at the festival to be prepared in commercial kitchens.

Stall holders were also advised to use biodegradable packaging for their food.

The council’s Pacific Advisory Group chairperson Ida Faiumu-Isaako (right) says they are complying with the new standards, but traditionally Pacific people are eco-friendly anyway.

“Eco-friendliness has always being a traditional part of Pacific culture. If we look at the way we prepared food at home in the ground and used banana leaves as plates.

“Being kind to the environment is part of everyday life,” she says.

Pacific Advisory Group members and community stall holders had concerns about the extra cost of being eco-friendly.

But costs were cut after company Kiwi Pack gave Pasifika Festival stall holders a discount on eco-friendly compostable food plates.

Pacific advisor Bessie Fepulea’i says the festival is an opportunity to teach the Pacific and wider community about the importance of recycling.

“Pacific people need to realise that global warming greatly affects the Pacific Islands.”

Senior Advisor Marie Retimanu-Pule says everyone must take personal responsibility: “Look at the rising sea levels in Tuvalu.”

With $60,000 given to the event as part of the council’s annual plan, the Pasifika Festival is set to be a permanent part of Wellington’s summer.

Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon says the council supported the inaugural Pacific festival at Frank Kitts Park in 2008, and has continued to fund it because it is such a success.

The council called for submissions after the first one and 30 organisations and individuals responded.

The decision was then made by the council to include the festival in its long term plan.

Mr McKinnon says it is important for the voice of the Pacific people to be heard.

Mrs Faiumu-Isa’ako says the event promotes Pacific presence in the capital city.

Her group, set up in 2005, consists of representatives for the Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tuvalu  and Tonga.

Deputy chairperson Kolovula Murphy, from the Tonga community, says it is good to encourage visitors to the city.

She says running the festival is only part of the group’s role. Other functions include informing their communities about city council matters and vice versa to build relationships between Pacific people and the council.

Moka Sipeli, wife of former PAG chairman, the late Rev Lagi Sipeli,says Mayor Kerry Prendergast has always encouraged Pacific and youth involvement in city events.

She says her late husband and others were passionate about the need for a Pacific festival, which improves Pacific cultures.

Disclosure: Brenda Cottingham is a member of the Pacific Advisory Group.

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