Pasifika Festival

19.01.13

Tena koutou katoa!
Talofa Lava
Taloha Ni
Talofa
Ni Sa Bula Vinaka
Ki a Orana
Malo o lelei
Fakalofa iahi atu
Malo o lelei fefe hake

Warm Pacific Greetings - to include the hundreds of other Pacific languages!

It is wonderful to celebrate our Pacific communities with song, dance, food, crafts and sport.

This festival is one of over 50 events that the Council puts on as part of our Summer City programme. Certainly one of the biggest, and most colourful and of course, both a great time and a great reminder of who we are as People of the Pacific

Yesterday I returned  from nine days holiday in Tonga with my husband and family - a private holiday before you worry about your rates!

We chose to go diving in Ha'apai in tonga because it is such an unspoilt place, with leopard sharks, eagle rays and beautiful fish and coral in every colour imaginable. The boys fished for trevally and none was wasted.

Then we went to Nuku'alofa and were made so welcome by Siofilisi Latu's sister so a big thankyou to Siofilisi and Kolovula Murphy who arranged an invitation to their church. It was so special to be welcomed to the capital by friends.

So today's themes of 'We are the ocean' and connectedness of people ring very true.

Before other nationalities feel hurt, we have enjoyed several other Pacific places in the past, but this was my first island holiday as Mayor.

This Pasifika Festival is a showcase of the Pacific and a recognition that we all are people of the Pacific. Great food, traditional performances and 'have-a-go' activities like traditional craft making.

The festival shows the important contribution Wellington’s Pacific people make to the city’s vibrant community life

The Wellington region is home to many people from different Pacific Island nations.

When I was in Tonga last week, someone said that Wellington is an excellent model of how Pacific communities connect with other cultures. You are a vital part of Wellington.

Council supports some other great initiatives: A community Garden - Togalaau aina (vegetable garden for women) – through the Samoan Methodist Church, the recently formed Pacific Art Network (which is working very well), Climate Change discussions and the importance of joint stewardship, care for environment and we have had workshops highlighting what households and individuals can do.

I’d also like to acknowledge the Pacific Advisory Group here today, especially Tina McNicholas the chair. The Group was established in 2003 as a link between the Council and Wellington's Pacific communities. The PAG helps consultation with Pacific communities and helping the Council understand their needs and PAG shows leadership in emergency management.

The theme for Positively Pasifika 2013 is We-Are-the-Ocean, inspired by the writings of the late Epeli Hau’ofa; he said Oceanic peoples are whanau connected by ocean, geneology, and shared voyaging heritage not separated by the sea.
Today is a chance to reconnect with each other, remember where we have come from and recognise who we are. We Are the Ocean is a celebration for all whose ancestors arrived here by Sea

We-Are-the-Ocean is a call to action for all to address Ocean sustainability. We need to connect our daily life choices & practice with the ultimate impact they have on the wellbeing of our seas.

I'd like to quote from Ecclesiastes - two verses that seem very apt for Wellington, Chapter 1: verses 6-7: The wind blows to the south. Then it turns to the north. Around and around it goes. It always returns to where it started. Every stream flows into the ocean. But the ocean never gets full. The streams return to the place they came from.

Let each of us do our part to ensure the ocean doesn't fill up with plastic and pollution. Let's work together, especially in transport, industry and agriculture so that the sea levels don't rise and drown the special beautiful and vulnerable islands of the Pacific or bleach the beautiful coral or diminish the abundance of fish.

The task is huge but if each person, each family, each congregation and each city does its share, together we can make the oceans cleaner, more full of life and enjoy them for all the days of our lives - and our children's and grandchildren's lives.

I’d like to acknowledge the presence of the Sustainability Trust who are running a suite of fun activities focused on waste minimisation.  They are organising a local beach cleanup to take place in the week following Positively Pasifika, and invite everyone to join in.

In a gesture to Ocean Sustainability, I’m pleased to announce that this year the Festival has been designated Plastic Water Bottle Free.  We have a Village Well onsite, essentially a trailer of Free drinking water, to quench the thirst of all Festival-goers. Wellington has very healthy tapwater!

The underpinning philosophy for these initiatives being when we take care of the Ocean, the Ocean takes care of us. 

Next month, if the winds are favourable, I shall be kayaking across the Cook Strait  - a great adventure for me but one that is tiny  compared with the great pacific voyages of our ancestors by waka ama, waka or sail.

Today we can celebrate who we are. We are people of the Pacific. We are people of the Ocean. And we are people of Wellington - the coolest little capital in the world!

The speech delivered may vary from this text.