Cook Island dancers thrilled some of the 60,000 visitors who flocked to the popular Pasifika Festival at Auckland's Western Springs yesterday.

Organisers expect a further 40,000 people at the annual event by the end of today to experience the 11 villages set up to recreate a slice of island life in inner-city Auckland.

Pasifika producer Stan Wolfgramm hailed the first day a success, with the inclusion of a Hawaiian contingent as a highlight.

"The people loved having the Hawaiians here and their food and crafts," he said.


It was important for the different Pacific nations represented to showcase their heritage and celebrate their culture.

'We're moving away from the market and want it to be a more traditional, authentic experience," he said.

Wolfgramm said there was a fresh emphasis on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices among stallholders and that meant no more polystyrene food containers.

Instead, there was widespread use of biodegradable plates made of potato, recycled cardboard and bamboo.