Celebrating the Pasifika Community: The Moana Nui Festival

1 May 2024

Funding Stories

On a perfect March day, the bustling Moana Nui Festival once again transformed Dunedin into a vibrant celebration of Pasifika cultures and community. The annual event, a collaboration between the Pasifika Futures Otago (PTO) organisation and nine Pasifika communities, brought together thousands of locals to experience the rich diversity of arts, music, food, and traditions from across the Pacific region.

PTO's main purpose is to support the wellbeing of Pasifika peoples in the Otago area, recognising that language and culture are fundamental to their identity and overall flourishing. The Moana Nui Festival provides a vital platform to connect these diverse communities, showcase their unique heritages, and empower the next generation to proudly embrace their cultural roots.

This festival is a unique opportunity for Pasifika peoples to express and share their cultures with each other and the wider Dunedin community - strengthening connections, passing on traditions, and increasing cross-cultural understanding and appreciation within the city.

With around 6-7,000 attendees, the one-day festival at Forsyth Barr Stadium featured an array of vibrant performances, authentic cuisine, traditional arts and crafts, and interactive activities. Stalls offering traditional jewellery, woodcarvings, and colourful textiles allowed guests to take home a piece of these diverse cultures.

Beyond the entertainment and cultural exchange, the festival also served as a platform for volunteerism and community development. Pasifika youth were encouraged to get involved, gaining valuable skills and experience while strengthening ties within their own groups and the wider Pasifika network. The festival relied on a dedicated team of volunteers to ensure the smooth running of all activities and performances throughout the day.

The festival's impact extends far beyond the event itself, fostering ongoing cultural preservation and exchange. Through workshops, mentorship programs, and year-round community initiatives, PTO and the Pasifika groups work to ensure these traditions continue to thrive, benefiting both the Pasifika peoples and the wider Dunedin community.