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Polyfest fits: Traditions, trends and crocs

Over the four days of Polyfest, more than 8,000 high school students will perform, and up to 100,000 spectators will attend.

When Polyfest began in 1976, four schools performed. Its goal was to demonstrate pride in cultural identity and to bring schools and the different cultures within them together. For 20 years it moved between different schools. In 1996, organisers deemed it too big for school grounds, and held it at the Manukau Sports Bowl – where it has been held ever since. This year, 230 groups from 69 schools will perform across six stages. They’ll perform traditional songs and dances from the Cook Islands, Aotearoa, Niue, Sāmoa, and Tonga. The diversity stage will feature Fijian, Tokelau, Chinese, Korean and Indian groups.

The mix of traditional and contemporary fashion in the crowd seems to reflect this year’s theme, me anga whakamuri kia koke whakamua (looking to our past to determine our future). Many of the garments used on stage are custom made by hand, and are paired with practical items for a full day out in the sun at the festival.

Polyfest runs until Saturday March 23, and tickets cost $10 at the gates.

If you can’t go in person you can watch livestreams of the six stages.

Sonya, Arizona and Sonali.
Latai, Seluvaia, Milika, Karian from Kia Aroha College.
Lilly, Ava and Aiyana from Avondale College.
Ola, here to watch “my little cousin” on the Samoan stage.
Ayah, Milan and Bella.
Bonz and Wai.
Jordyn, Monica, and Syrai from Auckland Girls Grammar.
Justyna here with Selwyn College.
Bernie, Lia and Ria.
Longani, Bobby and Sione.
Luisa is here to watch her nephews and niece perform. They’re all at different times so walking around will be her exercise for the day.
Lupe and Chyarme from One Tree Hill College.
Maddy, Atea, Kelly, Jaeda and Sienna from Baradene.
Ben, Freedom and Merroo, here to watch friends.
Nataly and Amelia, here to watch friends.
Preston and Jossy, here to watch friends from school.
Sione, Elijah and Setetaia from Kelston Boys, waiting and getting ready for their performance at the Tongan stage.
Tory and Frankie, after their performance on the Sāmoan stage.

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