Sounds of island music drifted through the Village Green today as locals immersed themselves in food and culture from the Polynesian nation.

Rain or shine Rotorua's Pasifika Fun Day 2019 was set to go ahead but there was no rain in sight which excited Keleni Foliaki (Tongan).

"Every year we come here and it is just to show people we are proud of our culture that we have."

Foliaki was busy selling a traditional meal of Lu pulu which included a mix of taro leaves, meat onions and coconut cream as well as Island style doughnuts called keke 'isite.

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She believed selling one of the most popular dishes in Tonga was an easy way to share the culture and would build a greater understanding for those with little knowledge of her island.

"I was born and raised in Tonga but recently moved in 2011. I miss home. You are in such a little isolated island that you know everyone in the village.

"If you see someone on the road you smile to them and would even invite them for a cup of tea but here it is weird to smile at strangers.

"That is our key for our island, we are really warm-hearted people and very welcoming.
To us, it feels normal."

Originally from the Cook Islands but born and bred in Rotorua meant the festival was a welcomed event for Teariki Roimata.

"I reckon it is good seeing different cultures go amongst each other instead of beefing with each other." He said.

Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey agreed while reflecting on the terrorist attack in Christchurch which happened two weeks ago.

"We have had a lot of services around the country and now people are wanting to look around and see what lessons we have learnt.

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"I think we are getting the message to celebrate our diversity instead of pushing it away or all trying to be one and today is an acknowledgement that we have diversity all around us."

Rotorua Pacific Islands Development Charitable Trust hosted the event - this year is the first it received funding in the events four-year history.

Trust manager Chrissy Russell (Fijian) said the funding enabled them to create the biggest event yet.

"It's about giving opportunity to our Pacific Island families to show their identity, their language, their culture, their food and to fundraise for their communities and their families.

"We just want kids to get up and enjoy being part of the Pacific culture."