Porirua City has hosted the biggest gathering of Tokelauans from all over New Zealand for this year’s Tokelau Easter Festival tournament.
The festival took place during Easter weekend, running from Friday 14 April to Monday 17 April 2017, with activities ranging from sports to cultural performances, music, community expos, and a youth fellowship service.
Pasifika Futures lent its support via the Tokelau Hutt Valley Association, to ensure families in the Hutt Valley took part in a variety of activities.
Tokelau Hutt Valley Association Executive Ms Ime Tavite says the financial contribution from Pasifika Futures enabled them to pay for the venue hire for sports and traditional cultural dance rehearsal.
“Our preparations over the last 8 months have focused on ensuring our young people are provided with a powerful platform to ignite their cultural identity through an intergenerational learning environment, to demonstrate leadership and learn various roles and responsibilities in serving our families and community,” says Ms Tavite.
The festival has a proud and long standing history spanning almost four decades in New Zealand, and is a key event for the Association and the biggest festival for Tokelau in the world.
The festival began in the early 1970s.
To date the festival has expanded into a traditional cultural dance extravaganza to revive Tokelau’s language, culture and identity.
Ms Tavite says the Tokelauan community has established themselves over the last 50 years in the Hutt Valley region.
“Wellington is home to the largest Tokelauan population in New Zealand and the world. The Hutt Valley region comprises about 1,200 Tokelau people and is the second largest Tokelau region to Porirua.”
“With a high population of NZ-born Tokelauans, only 2,469 are able to speak the Tokelau language, so the importance of strengthening the cultural identity of our youth and their parents is critical to the sustainability of Tokelau’s cultural heritage in New Zealand.”
Pacific Whānau Ora work supports the strengthening and enhancing of culture and leadership skills of families, encouraging them to participate fully in community events in order to enhance their skills, and provides access to social, community and cultural events.
Without revitalisation the Tokelau language is at risk of becoming extinct.
The festival helps to revive Tokelau’s language through songs, traditional dances and other activities where young people will benefit greatly in learning about their cultural identity.
According to the 2013 Census there were 7173 Tokelauans in New Zealand with a New Zealand born population of almost 70 percent.