Festival newcomers add extra flavour

By Sandra Conchie

Te Puke teenager Erena Moote was one of many first-time performers at the 13th Tauranga Multicultural Festival held this weekend.

The 12-year-old Te Puke High School student was part of the 20-plus strong Kiribati Community Group who performed on the main stage during Saturday's festival at Tauranga Historic Village.

Organised by the Tauranga Regional Multicultural Council, the day was a celebration of Race Relations Day on March 21 which has as its motto "Aotearoa - a fair go for all".

Erena's father Binoka Beero said his daughter admitted to being "a little bit nervous."

"But she was very happy. My wife tells me there was lots of shouting and clapping from the crowd during the performance and lots of people coming in when the group was getting prepared, wanting to take photographs. It was quite exciting for the Kiribati community to be asked to perform at this festival, and has helped to introduce our community to a lot more people."

Council president and festival organiser Ewa Fenn said she was thrilled with the strong turnout with more than 5000 people through the gates and believed numbers were up on last year.

"There was an absolutely incredible atmosphere and ambience around the village. People had so many options either sitting in front of the stage and watching the large programme of performers or meandering around the village watching the many street performers and taking in the many wonderful food stalls with food selections from around the world."

Mrs Fenn said the festival showcased 23 cultures with a wonderful selection of performers, arts and crafts, and food from countries including France, South America and the Pacific Islands.

"The whole village came alive. It was an absolutely fantastic day," she said.

Mrs Fenn said several groups were first-time performers including some Italian dancers and the Kiribati group from Te Puke, which is a growing community of 60-70 people.

The festival coincided with St Patrick's Day and talented young violinist Rebecca Whalley from Katikati College played Irish music.

Performers also included children from Tina Peet's Third Avenue Dance Centre who performed Irish dances and Tauranga Samba dressed all in green for their performances.

Mrs Fenn said the day aimed to offer people a better understanding of other cultures.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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