(PAGO PAGO, American Samoa) — Miss Pacific Islands Matauaina G. To'omalatai and Miss Samoa Alexandra Iakopo are heading to New Zealand for Auckland's iconic 26th Pasifika Festival.
Traveling together, To'omalatai and Iakopo, will spend time in each of the 11 villages at the event.
"I am excited and I look forward to witnessing this event for the first time," wrote Miss Pacific Islands on Facebook. "I hope to see you all there."
There are 11 villages: the Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Aotearoa, Hawai'i, Kiribati, Samoa, Tahiti, Tuvalu, Tonga and Tokelau, each representing a different Pacific Island culture, with delicious authentic foods, arts and crafts stalls and demonstrations.
Traditional and contemporary Pacific Island music and performances will also be showcased.
The Festival takes place March 25-26 at the Western Springs Lakeside Park. It is a free, family-friendly event that celebrates "the diverse cultures of Auckland’s Pacific whanau," according to a statement from the American Samoa Visitors Bureau.
"Pack a picnic rug and some sunscreen, and experience Auckland’s rich Pacific culture and heritage," the ASVB says. "Try Hawai'i’s smokey barbecue, the Samoan delicacy palusami (best eaten with a nice piece of baked taro) or sample Tuvaluan kaleve, a drink made from coconut sap."
Get Māori nail art at the Aotearoa village, check out traditional Fijian costumes and accessories, see how artisans from Tokelau use time-honoured techniques to create fishing lures from shells, and enjoy dancing and drumming from around the Pacific.
This year Pasifika will also feature companies from around the Pacific, showcasing traditional and innovative products bound for New Zealand and international markets.
The festival starts at the earlier hour of 9 a.m. on Saturday this year; while Sunday will again begin with the traditional Pasifika Interdenominational Church Service, with choir groups. Everyone is welcome.
Next door to the Festival, check out Pasifika Vibes @ MOTAT (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, free entry).
The Museums of Auckland, including the Auckland Museum, Art Gallery, MOTAT and Maritime Museum, are celebrating Pacific culture, rhythms and flavours, with great music, succulent food and live entertainment.
(Source: American Samoa Visitors Bureau Newsletter, Issue 91, March 2018)