"Aotearoa... a fair go for all."
That's the theme for multicultural events held throughout the country to celebrate Race Relations Day this month.
The Tauranga Regional Multicultural Council is very proud to announce their 13th year of putting on the Multicultural Festival - which continues to grow in popularity and is so much more than just a celebration of cultural diversity.
To say there is something for everyone is an understatement - the annual festival includes a wonderfully diverse stream of cultural performances and entertainment, various groups cooking up patriotic dishes, arts and crafts stalls for unique gift ideas, a wealth of information available from service providers and plenty of entertainment for children as well.
Council president Ewa Fenn says people love the event and many return every year.
"It use to be, that a lot of people would come for the food... now they are coming for the performers. Many of them will come and sit in front of the stage all day."
The festival is once again held inside the stately Historic Village on 17th, home to the Multicultural Council and other service providers. Festival activities are spread throughout the village and its greens.
Performers and entertainment on stages dotted throughout the village include - Bay Dixie band, Turkish Delight, Soor-noorpur, the Spanish Flamenco Dancers of Tauranga, Belisha and Art of Movement belly dancers, Gate Pa School folk dancers, Athena Greek dance group, Tauranga Israel Dance Group, Samoan AOG Youth Group and La Bourree.
Lifestyle sports such as Zumba and Tai Chi demonstrations will be carried out in the patio (staged) area in the village.
Service providers pertaining to immigrants will line the Village Main St and beyond - letting people know what's available in Tauranga for them. They include local branches of Settlement Support and Language Partners.
Many visit the festival with food on their mind - approximately 20 various groups will be brewing up cultural delicacies that won't be found on menu restaurants.
Some of the food stalls are commercial restaurants, but the majority are community groups wanting to fundraise and give people a taste of their home cuisine. Expect food of Nepal, Bangladesh, Filipino, Thailand, Africa, Pacific Islands, Asian, European descent and more.
Ewa says people will be delighted at the quality, diversity and great prices offered at the food stalls.
Arts and crafts are always popular at the event, selling things like Shiatsu massage, art work, jewellery, clothing, face-painting, hair-braiding, airbrush tattoos, even alpaca products and so much more.
Event organisers are well aware the 13th annual festival actually falls on St Patrick's Day. Visitors will notice a certain "green" theme throughout many of the festivities. Talented violinist Rebecca Whalley (from Katikati High School) will perform Irish tunes and Tina Peet's School of Dance puts on a show of their Irish dancers as well.
The Multicultural Festival is a "green" event in more ways than one. They are encouraging visitors to take the bus - the bus that stops outside the village is bus 59 which runs from central business district to Oropi, and bus one from Mount Maunganui goes through the central business district to Pyes Pa, stopping on Cameron Rd near Tauranga Hospital.
A wonderful costume parade marches through the village after midday and anyone in their native costume is welcome to join in.
For the kids...
If you are a "foodie", a music or dance lover, or just searching for a bargain - the Multicultural Council has the ultimate event for you.
But the Tauranga Multicultural Festival will also have plenty of fun entertainment to help keep kids happy.
The bouncy castle is always a winner, there's a clever magician from the United States to enthral young audiences and a man handy with balloons will be making weird and wonderful shapes. Hair braiding and face-painting is also available.
Pony rides take place on the backstreet behind the council. There's plenty of popular kids food like icecream and candyfloss.
Event organisers are looking forward to Tribal Fire, a fire-blowing, stilt-wearing group from Hamilton. It's their first time at the festival. Tribal Fire will provide festival "fairies" who will be floating around giving out lollies.
Ewa would like to say a big thank you to all their sponsors... ANZ, The Weekend Sun, Mai FM, Kleana Bins, Historic Village on 17th, Geon, Tauranga City Council, Stronglight Staging, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Lottery Commission and Creative Tauranga.
ANZ is providing a wonderful spot prize for one lucky visitor to the festival - $1000 into a serious saver account. You must be at the event when the prize is drawn (just after lunchtime).