P.M. English rocking Eveni at Pasifika 2017

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New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English.

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English.

Thousands of New Zealanders took a trip to the Pacific without leaving central Auckland during the weekend.

Traffic ground to a halt and lines of parked cars radiated out from Western Springs Park on Saturday, where more than 60,000 people attended the two-day 25th annual Pasifika festival.

Western Springs was transformed into a Polynesian paradise, with 11 villages representing the southern hemisphere’s cultural melting pot.

Participants were taken for a tour from Aotearoa to Tonga, Samoa, Niue, Tuvalu and all the way to Hawaii and Tahiti, sampling the best food and performances each ‘village’ has to offer.

The timbre of drumming echoed around the park and the smells of pineapple pie and chop suey filled the air - Pasifika delights all senses.

Stalls selling ei katu (flower head garlands), ukuleles, and ornate tapa and jewellery are dotted around the park. 

Prime Minister Bill English attended Saturday’s festivities, addressing a crowd of hundreds at the Samoan stage.   

The crowd erupted into applause as English told the story of his wife Mary Scanlan’s father, who emigrated from Samoa in the 1950s.

English said his father-in-law struggled, “like so many families do,” while he worked three jobs and raised 13 children.

The fact that his children are part Samoan and “share the blood of the Pacific” makes him proud, he said.

English said it was wonderful to see young people from different backgrounds expressing their culture at Pasifika.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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