Tonga's princess pays a visit to Polyfest 2016

A visit from Tonga's princess has made the final day of Auckland's Polyfest a royal affair.

Salote Mafile'o Pilolevu Tuita, the only sister of King Tupou VI, flew to New Zealand to see the Tongan stage in her first visit to the long-running festival at the Manukau Sports Bowl.

Ma'ulu'ulu from Papakura High School at Polyfest yesterday. Photo / Supplied
Ma'ulu'ulu from Papakura High School at Polyfest yesterday. Photo / Supplied

Stage co-ordinator Fane Ketuu and the local Tongan community made arrangements for the royal visit, including special seating for Princess Pilolevu.

The 64-year-old royal was welcomed to the festival at 10am today and will address the crowd during a prizegiving at 3pm.

Traditional school rivalries have been playing out on stage today in the final day of the competition, often described as Polyfest's "Super Saturday".

"Today is the day where the cream of the Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island and Niue groups perform on stage," ASB Polyfest event director Theresa Howard said.

School cultural groups have been battling it out for on-stage domination at the ASB Polyfest in Auckland today.

For the past three days, more than 9000 students from a combined 64 Auckland schools have taken part in the popular annual event.

All up, 228 cultural groups performing kapa haka and traditional dance have performed during this year's Polyfest.

Among the performers on show today was group from Wesley College performing Kailao on the Tongan Stage.

Competitors and the crowd at Polyfest on Saturday were treated by a visit from royalty, with Tonga's Princess Pilolevu making her first appearance at a Polyfest.

The princess is the only sister of King Tupou VI.

Before the competing cultural groups took to the stage at the Manukau Sports Bowl, Polyfest event director Theresa Howard predicted some strong competition.

"Today is the day where the 'cream' of Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island and Niue groups perform on stage," she said.

"The public will see amazing Pacific Island performances, and kapa haka at its best with the division one groups battling it out for the title, but for places in the national kapa haka competition."

Over the past 41 years Polyfest has developed into one of New Zealand's most-loved - and hotly contested - cultural events.

"The public will see amazing Pacific Island performances, and kapa haka at its best with the Division One groups battling it out not only for the title, but for places in the national kapa haka competition."

Wesley College Niue Performances at Polyfest. Photo / Supplied
Wesley College Niue Performances at Polyfest. Photo / Supplied

ASB community and sponsorship head Mark Graham was delighted with the community support shown at the festival.

"It's been great to see so many people from a range of diverse cultural backgrounds attend the ASB Polyfest this year. The diversity stage has had a record number of performances, and it's been wonderful to see a small representation of the many cultures alive and well here in New Zealand," Mr Graham said.

Aorere College Tongan Dance at Polyfest. Photo / Supplied
Aorere College Tongan Dance at Polyfest. Photo / Supplied

"Congratulations to each school and community group involved in this year's festival - we look forward to welcoming you back next year."

Polyfest

• ASB Polyfest's last day is on at Manukau Sports Bowl today.

• Entry is $5, with preschoolers free.

• Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi Maori features the powerhouses of school kapa haka from 8am to 5pm today. Fourteen schools are battling it out for the coveted Maori stage crown with Nga Puna o Waiorea (Western Springs College) seeking their fifth consecutive Division One title at 4.35pm. Their biggest threats are expected to come from Te Wharekura o Hoani Waititi (2.15pm), who won in 2011, and Auckland Girls' Grammar Kahurangi (10.20am), who took the title in 2008 and 2009.

• One of Polyfest's longest-running rivalries continues today on the Cook Islands Stage between Mangere College and Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate. The latter are looking for a three-peat of titles when they hit the stage at 2.15pm. Mangere College won the title in 2013, and were on stage at 9.05am.

• The Tongan stage features the vibrant Tongan dances such as the Ma'ulu'ulu and Kailao from 8am to 2.30pm.

• The Niue stage will be reverberating with seven Niue groups on stage from 9.30am to 3pm.

• The Samoan Stage has 14 groups performing traditional Samoan dances from 8am.

- NZ Herald

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