Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development confirmed the Pasifika Festival, one of the biggest Pacific cultural festivals in the world, will be going ahead despite coronavirus concerns.

The event, on the weekend of March 14 and 15 at Western Springs, also coincides with the first anniversary of the Christchurch terror attacks that killed 51 people.

Last year, Ateed cancelled the festival because police had to prioritise resourcing to ensure public safety after the Christchurch shootings.

Leisa Siteine, Ateed's event production manager, said organisers would be mindful of the anniversary of the shooting and a minute's silence will be observed at all 11 participating villages at the event.

The Pasifika Festival is one of the largest events celebrating Pacific cultures in the world. Photo / File
The Pasifika Festival is one of the largest events celebrating Pacific cultures in the world. Photo / File

She said there had been no security concerns raised in relation to the event taking place during the anniversary of the terror attacks.

"Out of respect to the victims and families of the Christchurch tragedy, one minute's silence will be observed by each village at the start of the festival's second day," she said.

"There's a heightened sense of excitement after the disappointment surrounding last year's cancellation following the Christchurch tragedy."

Siteine said Ateed had considered public health issues surrounding the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

"The health and safety of the Auckland public, and all those involved in the festival – including our staff – is paramount," she said.

"We continue to monitor the latest updates from the Ministry of Health, as well as advice from other relevant agencies, and feel comfortable proceeding as planned for now.

"We also sought views about coronavirus from the Pasifika Festival Village co-ordinators who represent the 11 communities involved in the event and they are supportive of the event taking place."

Traditional Pacific dances are a highlight at the annual Pasifika Festival. Photo / File
Traditional Pacific dances are a highlight at the annual Pasifika Festival. Photo / File

Earlier this month, Ateed cancelled the Auckland Lantern Festival for the first time in its 21-year history.


"It's important to note that the decision to cancel this year's Auckland Lantern Festival resulted from growing concern within the Chinese community about the timing of the event in relation to the evolving situation in China," Siteine said.

"Ateed fully respected the wishes of the Chinese community leaders, who did not feel it was appropriate to celebrate Chinese New Year given the extent of coronavirus' impact in China."

The Pasifika Festival started in 1992 and highlights Pacific culture in all aspects - through traditional dance, food and crafts as well as other customs and ways of life including tatau (tattooing), carving and traditional cooking practices such as umu and lovo.

The villages in the festival are Fiji, Aotearoa, Kiribati, Hawaii, Niue, Samoa, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Cook Islands, each with its own drawcard events and activities.

"We will continue to monitor the health situation in relation to coronavirus, and take guidance from the relevant authorities, but at this stage are looking forward to staging an outstanding celebration of our region's Pasifika community," Siteine added.

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A police spokesman said police have been in discussions with the organisers.

"This is an important event within the Auckland calendar and police have actively provided support for a number of years.

"We will be present at the event as we are every year. As with any event, police want to make sure that our communities are safe and feel safe."

He said police will be deployed not only at Pasifika but across the city "to ensure that our communities have the opportunity to enjoy the wide range of events occurring" over the Christchurch terror shootings anniversary weekend.

"The security of the event is the responsibility of the event organiser," the spokesman said.

"Police will be focused on community engagement and supporting those at the event to ensure that together we work toward the aim of ensuring that the event is safe and enjoyable for all."

When: Saturday, March 14-Sunday, March 15, 9am to 5pm.
Where: Western Springs Park, Auckland.
What: Food, entertainment and crafts celebrating Pacific cultures.