SUMMERTIME IN AUCKLAND: IN HONOUR OF PACIFIC ISLANDS AND WORLDWIDE CULTURES
During my stay in Auckland, I could notice that the number of foreign people moving in there has been increasing and I observed how the city accepts that the population is becoming international. I mainly remember of two Festivals to discover Pacific Islands and various cultures settled in New Zealand.
Well, the Pasifika Festival first happened in the middle of last summer, that is to say, last March 2016. Everyone was invited to go to a huge park to discover the culture of Pacific Islands for a whole weekend. A friend of mine and I went there on Sunday, and we stayed until the closing, even while organizers were packaging their belongings. Because of the sunny day, many joyful people’s face, a various choices of souvenirs or food stands, the sound of different languages and musical styles, the delicious smell of meals… The idea was to walking from what we called a village to another one, each of which representing an island. We caught sight of a road sign giving the way of the Fiji, Tongan, Salomon Islands, Cook Island, Samoan villages and several ones more. Indeed, we didn’t know where to begin in. So we just followed the path and left ourselves to being catch by the atmosphere! And that took us a long time to visiting all countries.
Shopping in Cook Island
In the Cook Island village, the public focused on the main stage where some volunteers were taking part of a game. We had a look at the food stands, which, in my opinion, the most popular was the dessert mixed with a half pineapple or melon, filled up with a few vanilla ice-cream balls. I’ve glanced on the dresses, pareos, and hats for sale as well. With their colorful patterned dresses, their Capeline hats covered in flowers and their sandals, women were simply, comfortably, at least they looked to be, and well-dressed. I also discovered during my trip to New Zealand that it is common to notice a stand which offering a massage service. What a surprise for me to see we can take relax and have a massage in front of everybody, as customers just needed to keep laying on the table, still wearing their clothes!
The final in Hawaï
We finally finished the festival in the Hawaiian village, watching the shows done at different stages. I remember of an orchestra which the old conductor made a speech with a religious tone before to start playing. Musicians were all dressed in a white shirt and the kiekie, the skirt made of strips of hibiscus which is common in traditions from Pacifica. An another stage, wearing colorful dresses trimmed with flowers, women made the famous Hula dance. Just seeing them dancing made me feel relax and in a good mood, and think how much charming it is. To conclude, all performers and organizers who contributed in the Hawaiian village sang the last show. Afterward, one of them proposed to make a circle, so everybody formed a huge one by holding each other their hands. That’s how my friend and I were at a jointly pray, which the presenter recited in English and Hawaiian language in his microphone. The moment was intense as music bands played no more and people stopped talking to listen to the whispered pray. The presenter finished by thanking the public and then everyone let the applauses to come until to leave.
The International Cultural Festival
A week after, I went to the International Cultural Festival where all continents were pleased to take up a stand to introduce the different customs. Indeed, there wasn’t limit in the world. While I had a walk in the park, the festival enabled me to meet young Romanian women wearing traditional costumes, drank a ginger tea from Indonesia which left my mouth on fire for at least ten minutes as I am not used at all to swallow spicy ingredients. I also ate an African meal, saw a Chilean dancing performance, listened to a Caribbean music band which played, among others, the famous song of the Disney’s movie The Little Mermaid, and a lot of worlds shows more.
The public is international. I went with a Chilean friend who met there by chance another of his French friends spending time with a Japanese girl… Each one was suddenly excited when a show or a stand from our country appeared. I didn’t forget the Eritrean performance what I wasn’t able to watch as all Eritrean people arrived in front of the stage, joyful and proudly, to cheer when the music and two teenage girls started their dancing customs. The public got suddenly crowded, and two boys then joined the stage, both brandishing a national flag. I also discovered how much Southeastern Asian like to share their culture by staging it. With their traditional clothes, they got ready to dance or to pose for a picture at anytime: for example, the young lady sitting in middle of a giant water lily which was floating in a small round swimming pool. The reality came sometime back to my mind, such as the women’s missing to represent the South Arabian stand, what has saddened me even if I’ve met so kind and interesting young men from this kingdom during my trip.
Auckland: a city of diversity
In spite of not being the capital, Auckland is the biggest New Zealander city and isn’t representative of the rest of the country. When you walk in the street you obviously hear people speaking English but also many others languages. In fact, New Zealand is getting popular for foreign individuals who want to learn English, to study, to raise their family in better conditions of life and backpackers are welcomed as well. At this moment, my colleagues were mostly from Asia, South America, and Pacific. So, that isn’t surprising the International Cultural Festival, and the Pasifika Festival had been successful. If you are just travelers or on holiday you can see more about persons you bump into the city; it’s about sharing their native culture proudly for resident people. I wanted to go to those festivals, and I kept an excellent memory about it. So that is why I advise you to enjoy it, as it’s coming pretty soon in Auckland in March and April 2017, while the Pasifika Festival is celebrating its 25th birthday!