The 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC) opens in Hawai'i

Creative New Zealand - Toi Aotearoa,
05 June 2024, New Zealand

The 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC) opens in Hawai’I today with 26 nations from across the Pacific represented by over 2,000 artists and practitioners. A Va’a ceremony on Wednesday preceded the 10-day festival.

Toi Aotearoa Creative New Zealand is managing the Aotearoa delegation on behalf of the Government and has an 85-member artistic delegation in Hawai’i. New Zealand has been at every FestPAC since the event was launched in 1972.

The delegation’s artistic expertise spans 11 artforms, while the individual members represent 42 iwi and six island nations. The winners of 2023 Te Matatini, Te Kapa Haka o Te Whānau-ā-Apanui make up over half the delegation.

The three co-Heads of Delegation are all members of Toi Aotearoa and its Komiti Māori. They see FestPAC’s potential as an opportunity to take action on many issues that are pressing for Māori and Pacific artists and central to Creative New Zealand’s strategy.

“FestPAC is more than a celebration, it’s about sharing our cultures and art forms with our Pacific neighbours and finding connections,” co-Head of Delegation Kura Moeahu (Ngā Ruahine, Te Āti Awa, Taranaki, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Toa) says. 

“The Māori artists in the delegation are focused on revitalisation of forms and practices handed down from their tipuna so that they can pass them to the next generations. The New Zealand born Pacific artists in the delegation are sharing evolving practices drawn from multiple cultural influences,” Moeahu says.

Revitalising cultural practices requires access to the traditional materials. The availability of these materials is another issue of strategic importance and one that is on the agenda for the workshops at FestPAC. 

“Traditional practices rely on plant and animal materials that have been put at risk by changes in land use, aquaculture, and trade,” co-Head of Delegation Bonita Bigham (Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa) says. “And that means traditional practices are endangered too. The mechanisms in place to protect endangered species need to work better for all of us, and we’re expecting robust conversation on the options,” Bigham says. 

Conversation will also be about learning, connection, and career opportunities. 

“Being in the same space as a few thousand other artists and creatives is an opportunity for growth. Every artist and every delegation will have faced challenges – from learning their form, to getting to Hawai’i. Now we’re here, we can share our experiences and learn from each other,” co-Head of Delegation Puamiria Parata-Goodall (Ngāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha and Ngāti Kahungunu) says.

“Nurturing future generations is central to FestPAC. We’ve got Poroaki Merritt-McDonald (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāiterangi, Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Kauwhata, Rangitāne, Ngā Rauru, Tūhoe and Ngāti Rehua) and Annafinau Tukuitoga (Niue) who are taking part in the Youth Ambassador programme. And we also see the next generation being developed within Te Kapa Haka o Te Whānau-ā-Apanui,” Parata-Goodall says.

Find out more about the Aotearoa Delegation and FestPAC here