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A sacred bird is behind this year's Pasifika Festival, bringing together the many cultures of the Pacific.
The kota - Niuean for frigate bird - is the theme for the 2009 festival, acknowledging the cultural significance and importance of one of the Pacific's best-known navigational birds.
The Kota Pasifika rock sculpture - being created by carvers from Fiji, Niue and the Cook Islands - pays tribute to the bird and its significance in a number of Pacific cultures.
Featuring in folktales and stylistic tattoos, the frigate bird symbolises freedom and power - soaring over seas - and is a vital navigational tool for those at sea.
Pasifika Festival director Ole Maiava says this year's theme is a tribute to the bird that many have come to love - and respectfully fear - within the Pacific.
"It means many things to different islands. It's known as a long-distance traveller who helps with navigation - to see how far from land you are," Mr Maiava said.
"In other islands, like Samoa, it's an omen. When you see an atafa [frigate bird] you know a storm is coming."
The frigate-bird theme will feature strongly at this year's 17th Pasifika Festival, with the 10 villages - representing Niue, Tahiti, Tokelau, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Fiji and tangata whenua - showing off their unique symbols and meanings of the bird at their different sites.
A mix of traditional and Island-inspired food - such as the well-known icecream-in-watermelon salad - from all parts of the Pacific will be on offer, as well as arts, crafts and taonga for sale.
Some of the country's hottest music artists will also take to the stage, including hip-hop artist Scribe, hip-hop and RnB band Nesian Mystik, J. Williams and South Auckland reggae band Three Houses Down.
New items this year include Roving Performers - featuring fire dancers from Samoa and the Manangadangi Panpipes Cultural Group from the Solomon Islands - and the Auckland City Sevens Sports Jam 09.
Rugby, soccer and league teams - including the Warriors' development team, the Vulcans - will kick off from 8am and continue throughout the festival day.
Said Mr Maiava: "Pasifika is a chance for everyone to come and celebrate everything Pacific. Good food and entertainment - and it's free. It's all good."
PACIFIC ON SHOW
When: Tomorrow, 10am to 5pm.
Where: Western Springs Park.
Parking: Available at Western Springs College in Motions Rd (the same road as the zoo) for $5 for the day.
Transport: Buses will run from New Lynn, Newmarket (outside 277 Broadway) and Britomart.
A free park-and-ride service will run from Unitec in Carrington Rd.
Highlights: Traditional and contemporary Island music and entertainment - fire dancers, Scribe, Nesian Mystik, Three Houses Down.
Ten Pacific villages showcasing food and crafts.