Auckland's Pasifika Festival is facing a backlash from those who pushed for it in the first place - with some threatening to boycott the event.

Members of the Pacific community have taken to social media to express their concerns about the festival, saying it no longer reflects the grassroots event it was set out to be 23 years ago.

"It has become too commercialised, too regimented and very expensive - in particular for the small stall-holders who have been loyal Pasifika participants for many years," one person posted on the Pacific Island Media Association Facebook page.

Pasifika producer Stan Wolfgramm has helped in continuing the festivals success, with the inclusion of a Hawaiian contingent as a highlight this year. Also making a new appearance was the presence of a twin hulled vaka accompanied by historic stories of the seafaring people.

Another member said they were unhappy that other big events in the city - such as the Auckland Arts Festival - had been put on around the same time; while others were upset that a "palagi" company was organising the event.


Tongan community leader Will 'Ilolahia said people were unhappy Auckland Council's tourism, events and economic development group (Ateed) had outsourced PR company Orange Productions to run the event.

Mr 'Ilolahia - a former chairman of the old Pacific Island Board Auckland City - said he understood there had been no consultation with Pacific leaders about this year's festival, which will be held this weekend at Hayman Park in Manukau.

"If Pacific people are involved in the governance of the event, then it will be more successful economy-wise."

The 2013 and 2014 festivals were both delivered by Ateed, who contracted former actor, model and writer Stan Wolfgramm.

Mr Wolfgramm - founder of television, events and communications company Drum Productions - is well-known within Pacific circles and is best known for his work with the popular Westfield Style Pasifika fashion show. The decision to no longer be involved with the event followed what he felt was a shift from an authentic cultural experience.

Mr Wolfgramm said the success of such an event came from meeting people and talking to them face to face.

"That's how you make a successful Pasifika event."

Ateed spokeswoman Charmaine Ngarimu dismissed the claims, saying village co-ordinators representing each Pacific nation at the festival were providing advice to the organising committee.


"Orange Productions is in daily contact with the village co-ordinators and holds regular meetings to ensure the authenticity of the festival is maintained," she said.

Meanwhile, Auckland Transport has been fielding complaints about the lack of extra and free public transport being put on to and from the event.

A spokesman acknowledged other events happening over the weekend - including the cricket match at Eden Park and the Eagles concert - had chosen to fund public transport as part of their ticket prices.

"The organisers of Pasifika do not normally fund additional public transport but are providing shuttle buses from Puhinui station to Manukau station, should they be needed."

Train and bus services will run as normal to and from Manukau station, near Hayman Park.

Pasifika concerns

• Lack of consultation with Pacific Island community in the organising of festival.

• Less of an authentic cultural experience.

• Lack of free public transport services.