Pasifika Festival has been cancelled because of concerns about coronavirus, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff announced this morning.

The festival at Western Springs was set to run tomorrow and Sunday.

Goff said it was with "much regret" that the festival has been cancelled.

"We were simply not prepared to take the risk."


Goff said the decision was made after discussions with various groups from the community as well as Cabinet. He had taken advice from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

He had also spoken to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about the event yesterday.

The last-minute decision to cancel was not based on what health authorities had said, but on the fact that hundreds of people from around the Pacific would be attending, Goff said.

Organisers and officials did not want to risk spreading an infection - if there was one at the event - to Pacific nations once those visitors returned.

Goff acknowledged the measles epidemic that had hit Samoa in particular late last year when dozens of people - most of them young children - had died.

"The history of the spread of contagious infections from New Zealand to Samoa, with last year's measles epidemic which took 82 lives, weighed heavily on our decision," he said.

"It is disappointing for all of us as Aucklanders, and particularly for our Pacific communities, that the festival will not be going ahead this weekend.

"It's unfortunate to have to cancel an event enjoyed by tens of thousands which celebrates our vibrant Pacific community in Auckland and our multiculturalism.


"However, Aucklanders will understand the council taking commonsense steps to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

"It's particularly disappointing to have to cancel the event for the second year in a row, but in both instances, it is for reasons beyond our control."

The future of other public events would be determined on a case-by-case basis, after advice from health officials. More large events are scheduled for Auckland in the next week, including Polyfest.

Associate Minister for Pacific Peoples Minister Carmel Sepuloni said it was important to note that the Pacific community backed the decision to cancel Pasifika.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) had said earlier this week it would go ahead with the festival.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff made the announcement this morning. Photo / File
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff made the announcement this morning. Photo / File

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on whether the March 15 terror attack memorial service and Auckland's Pasifika Festival should go ahead.

She was set to open the festival tomorrow and is in Christchurch today.

"New Zealand does not have community outbreak at this point. We have cases that are identified where we've been able to do contact tracing," Arden said.

"So we're not at the point where other governments we've seen around the world have cancelled large scale events.

"However, I do want to assure myself that we're in the right position from a public health perspective so I have asked for more advice."

A group of doctors were among those putting pressure on the council and Government to change its mind.


It is the second year in a row that Pasifika has been called off.

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

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Covid-19 a pandemic as the number of people who had contracted it passed 120,000 people.

There have been five confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Zealand.

The Government is considering tightening travel restrictions.

Ardern overnight from top scientists on whether New Zealand's border restrictions would tighten further.


This came after US President Donald Trump placed a 30-day ban on travel from most European countries yesterday, sending shockwaves through international markets.