Just before summer ends & everyone starts dragging their winter woolies out, Auckland holds 2 major Polynesian festivals over 2 consecutive weekends in March. Pasifika and Polyfest.
Pasifika, which is held annually at Western Springs is the largest festival of its kind and usually has about 300,000 people through its gates. Polyfest is also held annually at the Manukau Valedrome in South Auckland and is a huge showcase of polynesian culture with high school groups competing on 5 different stages – Maori, Cook Island, Tongan, Niuean and Samoan.
This year for the first time they held Pasifika over 2 days – Saturday AND Sunday. I take the kids along every year and one of my friends lives across the motorway from the park so she lets us park at her house every year too – shot Tolotea!
Pretty much every Pacific island nation is represented at Pasifika and they all have their own separate villages selling crafts, clothing, FOOOOOOD! Good, island food, chop-suey & rice, BBQ, taro, Mayonnaise, icecream in carved out watermelon & pineapples and did I mention the food? lol! Yeah, you know you go for the food too! There’s also lots of Poly entertainment, dancing, singing, tatau demonstrations and more.
Chopsuey, rice, cooked banana, chicken and curry
Anyways, was real keen to go this year because I’d seen on facebook one of my friends – David Toailoa – was selling a bunch of his art in the Samoan village along with another artist so I was like oh mean! I’ll have to go check it out cos I’d seen a lot of his stuff on instagram & on his facebook page etc but hadn’t seen it up close & personal.
Um but yeah, time keeping & attention to detail are not really my strong points so I rocked up at Pasifika on Sunday afternoon to find Rosita Vai singing the last song and pretty much everything closed up at the Samoan Village with David and his art nowhere to be seen #FAIL Penz!
BUT the day was not a lost cause because my kids were still on the hunt for icecream filled pineapples so we wandered round to the Cook Islands village who we could see & hear were still open and thank goodness we did because I ran into a few of my friends who had stalls there – too cool tikae!
L-R Keren Aviu, Mona Mato, Rachel Guinea & Vaiana George
Have I ever mentioned that I grew up in the Cook Islands before? No? Oh my badness – Surprise! I did!! I did all of my secondary schooling in Rarotonga from Intermediate right through to Form 7, sat Bursary at Tereora College and pretty much had the time of my life growing up there AND I made some lifelong, beautiful friends! Yeah, I was really fresh back then too lol!
So now let me introduce you to Rachel Guinea and her younger sister Vania Kenning. I was good buddies with Vania when we first moved to Raro until by memory I think she went to Hawaii on some kind of exchange programme when we were in 4th form and I remember her older sister Rachel was finishing high school when we were all starting. Anyway, we were all catching up and Rachel introduced me to the product line she founded and is creative director for – TeRa. She is actually based in Hong Kong and Vania looks after the Marketing side in the Cook Islands.
Be sure to check out their website for more info on their product, the inspiration for their product line and the meaning of the name TeRa here
Rachel has created a polynesian inspired line of handbags, wallets/clutches and accessories and don’t be rolling your eyes thinking they’re made out of flax and fresh looking – no way! These are top quality, fashionable handbags and you know what I think is great about them is that I’m pretty sure these are the first of it’s kind for Polynesians – to have a handbag/luggage range – well, it’s the first that I’d seen anyway. Here’s a couple of fashionistas who loved the range and bought a couple for themselves:
Rach & the gorgeous Miss Samoa – Janine Tuivaiti with a TeRa clutch
Rach & Teuila Blakely – Rach told me she’d given Teuila a TeRa clutch when they were exhibiting at The Cloud and Teuila had come to look for them at Pasifika to BUY the tote!
Some more of their range on display at Pasifika.
A huge meitaki ma’ata to both Rachel and Vania as they let me pick out a tote for myself – blessings! Thank you so much ladies! I’d actually been looking for a handbag for a while as the Country Road tote bag my sisters had gifted me was stolen out of my car a couple of years ago and I’d never found one I’d liked or was the size I liked but this one is perfect! I chose the black & silver but they also have the same style in red & orange and a tiger print with red hibiscus. I LOVE my TeRa tote & don’t worry if you missed them at Pasifika, they’re currently in stock and available to buy from TAV Pacific on Mt Eden Road, Auckland, New Zealand or you can order online.
Next up we have Vaiana George who I’d also grown up with and been in the same class with her all the way through until 6th form! Was awesome to see her again as I hadn’t seen her since she’d been down staying with her sister Angela and we’d hung out quite a bit over the time of the Rugby World Cup. She was selling black pearls and black pearl jewellery as well as these simple but beautiful dresses like the one that Vaiana herself is wearing in this photo with me.
Vaiana George is wearing her own design – aqua tipani dress & she’s also wearing her own jewellery – black pearl earrings, black pearl string necklace & a sterling silver black pearl bracelet. I’m wearing a well known Cook Island designer Elena Tavioni’s design – TAV pacific blue strapless dress – it’s actually the blue version of the pink dress that Princess Kate wore to the Solomon Islands. I bought mine in Rarotonga a couple of years ago but they’re also in stock here in Auckland at their shop on Mt Eden Road. Lani Says featured them in her blog last year. You can read more about TAV here.
Vaiana also blessed me with one of her tipani dresses – yay! Thank you so much! Loves it! She doesn’t have an outlet here in New Zealand but you can order her dresses or jewellery online through her facebook page and she ships internationally from the Cook Islands.
Some more of her black pearl jewellery below:
Sterling silver black pearl bracelet
Black pearl pendants
Sooooo yeah, sometimes it does pay to be late because you might miss out on what you’d originally gone for but just around the corner you might stumble across some other treasures hahaha nah don’t listen to me – I’m notorious for being late ALL the time lol!
Anyways, remember how I’d originally gone to see my friend David Toailoa’s art but totally missed out? WELL!!! A couple of days after Pasifika he asked me if I could take some pics of the pieces he’d exhibited there …… hello! so it all worked out because I still got to see a few of them up close & personal – yeeeeah buddy! lol!
I’d met David a couple of years ago now at a party out in Sandringham with my good buddies Del Smith & Niko Goulter and no, this is a different party to the Sandringham party that I’d met Joe Fiu at and no, I don’t meet everyone at parties …… sometimes I meet them at ummm ….. the supermarket & ummmmm ….. coffee group lolz!
Anyways, I had no idea he was an artist – I thought maybe he was a singer?! because at the party he broke out the guitar and sang a mean ‘Sosefina’ and he’s also a GREAT actor/comedian/lip-sync/Rita Ora impersonator – yes I have a video of this greatness & yes you can check it out after the jump.
But it wasn’t until I started following him on Instagram that I realised he’s an artist and does some amazing banners, portraits & canvases…. here’s a couple I’ve stolen off his facebook sssshhhhh!
Auckland City skyline – I believe Allan from New Flava Barbers has bought this piece
21st banner and Davids niece ….
Had a bit of a chat with David when I was taking the pics of his Pasifika pieces for him and he said he’s probably not going to be doing any more of the banners but he’ll be focusing on canvases and prints. He’s also doing this as his full time job! I’ve always got a lot of admiration for people who can take the risk of maybe not having a regular income but focusing on what they love doing & building up their own business & then making some serious coin from it. I read this today: “You’ll have to do what others won’t to achieve what others don’t” and yeah, man this pretty much sums up those people that are out there doing it for themselves – too choice! All the best with it bro!
Here’s a couple more of the canvas pieces he’d done for Pasifika: –
Ula Gifo – this would probably be my personal favourite, along with the Auckland city skyline.
Follow him on Instagram at davidtoailoa_art
Check out out more of his art on tumblr here or if you like anything you see, would like something done or would like to buy a piece you can contact him through his facebook here or shoot him an email at email@example.com
Was just thinking with TeRa and Davids art (might be a bit late to get in an order to Vaiana) they’d make awesome gifts for Mothers Day coming up this Sunday!! Food for thought?!
and lastly, I can’t NOT share his other skills with you aye? Check out David at the 2:40 mark – Enjoy lol!
Finally, to end I’m going to go out with the winners of the boys section on the Samoan Stage at Polyfest 2013 …… Sagato Paulo!
i LOVE Polyfest!! Seriously! I think it could have something to do with the fact that I grew up in the islands and we did a LOT of cultural dancing both competitively and for huge events like the South Pacific Arts festival or just for fun but I’m always so impressed by the standard of the performances every year at Polyfest here in Auckland.
I’ve always gone to support different family members from my youngest sister Leilani of Lani Says who was in Onehunga High Schools Cook Island group, to some of my younger cousins and more recently my eldest son Jirah who joined the St Pauls Samoan Group. Last year they didn’t do very well at all so he almost didn’t join this years group but my Dad told him he was Samoan so what was he thinking NOT joining the Samoan Group and to get his ass back to school and join the group lol! Jirah: Yes Papa!
So for 6 weeks or longer they practise and practise and practise and walk around the house singing their songs and doing their dance moves and sit in the car on the way to school going over their sasa and slap dance moves and they practise some more and they do dummy runs in front of their parents at fiafia night and they practise some more ……
and then it comes down to 20 minutes on the Samoan Stage in front of the judges and a packed out South Auckland valedrome.
The boys were really lucky to have awesome tutors – St Pauls old boys (the main Tutor Alapati Tupuola is in the dance group Tatau who are AWESOME – if you’re ever looking for entertainment for weddings, birthdays or any kind of function I’d highly recommend them. Look them up on facebook for their contact details) who came back and really drilled them this year so their winning performance was a great reflection on the effort & investment the tutors put into them as well as the boys themselves. Was really impressed with all of them.
One thing I really loved about the boys performance was the entrance where the tutors had remixed the Vaniah Toloa song Samoae Maopoopo Mai – their entrance gave me goosebumps it was THAT good haha! Really love Vaniahs song too, the boys also made it their own by changing the words Samoae to ‘Sagato Paulo’ on different occasions too.
I put together a bunch of photos and video footage of the boys on the day they performed that you can feel free to check out here
This vid of their fa’ataupati and sasa has been really popular
So proud of Jirah and the St Pauls boys as well as all the tutors and teachers who made it happen. Congratulations again on a well deserved win!
Be sure to tune in to Fresh TV this Saturday at 10am as they’ll be featuring the Samoan Stage!! Hopefully they have a lot of footage of these guys because Jirahs been waiting for a couple of months to see himself on TV lol! Check out the promo clip here & yup I see you Jirah!!