Canterbury Polyfest looking to celebrate our shared Pacific heritage

Cantabrian – Dawson Misa, is excited to lead his school’s Pacific cultural group for the very first time at tomorrow’s Canterbury Polyfest in Christchurch.

Pasifika Futures is one of the sponsors of the annual event that celebrates Pacific culture, dance and food and will see 30 secondary schools from the Canterbury region perform cultural items from the Pacific.

“Our cultural dances and songs are not all about entertaining the crowds. Most importantly it’s about telling and sharing our Pacific stories,” says Dawson, 17, who is a Year 13 student at Middleton Grange School in Christchurch.

“Our ancestors didn’t have books. They told our history and our stories through song and dance and that’s something that I’ve come to really value.”

This is Dawson’s fourth time performing at Polyfest and he says it was a privilege to be named his cultural group’s male leader this year.

“It’s a huge responsibility but it’s a great way to learn about how to become a good leader, leading by example and taking the time to listen and respect others around you.”

Unlike the Auckland Polyfest, the Christchurch event has schools combining different cultural performances from different islands.

Dawson’s group will perform traditional items from Tonga and Samoa. He says it’s a great way to connect and learn about another culture.

“Learning the similarities and differences between our cultures and having the willingness to share has been a true blessing.”

He also says the experience is drawing him closer to his father, Amanaki Misa, who is the General Manager of Etu Pasifika, the largest health provider for Pacific families in Canterbury.

“My dad has been a great support by explaining to me the words and the true meaning of the songs we are singing.”

Director of Partnerships for Pasifika Futures, Craig Sionetuato, says supporting Canterbury Polyfest, which celebrates its 21st year, will encourage our youth to be proud of their Pacific heritage.

“The day will provide a showcase of Pacific dance, culture and food for people of all ethnicities to enjoy and embrace.”

Etu Pasifika will have a stall at the event tomorrow which is being held from 9:30am – 5pm at the Red Zone, Dallington, Christchurch.

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Date: Friday 12 March 2021