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Lower Hutt rolls out the welcome mat for the world’s largest Tokelau Festival

Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai – Lower Hutt welcomes the return of the largest Tokelau festival in the world after a Covid-disrupted break of seven years.

The four-day Tokelau Easter Festival – which celebrates Tokelauan culture and sport – starts on Good Friday and runs through to Easter Monday.

Around 3000 people a day, from as far away as Auckland and Rotorua, will attend the event which has a theme of Ko te Tupulaga a Tokelau, ko te lumanaki o Tokelau – Our Tokelau young people are the future leaders of Tokelau.

The Tokelau Festival was hatched in the 1970s. Over the past 50 years it has grown in size, status and importance to become the behemoth it is today.

The festival’s uniqueness is guaranteed with it being the only Tokelau festival which brings together people from all four Tokelau atolls: Olohega; Fakaofo, Nukunonu; and Atafu.

Festival participants will immerse themselves in Tokelauan traditions, dance and music, as well as embracing the cultural jewel that is the Tokelau language.

The festival is hosted by malo ni Tokelau Hutt Valley Marlins. President Ake Pereira says our theme, ‘Ko te Tupulaga a Tokelau, ko te lumanaki o Tokelau,’ encapsulates our festival’s focus on empowering Tokelauan youth as leaders.

“We’re honoured to have the Ulu o Tokelau, Afioga Aliki Faipule, Alapati Tavite, and Tokelauan Gold Medalist Ilai Elekana Manu as keynote speakers. Notable Tokelau Youth will also speak, alongside esteemed Masters of Ceremonies like Pelenato Sakalia, CEO of Moana Pasifika and well-known actor, Semu Filipo.

“With community mobilisation and support from our partners, this event will be memorable, honouring our elders, parents, and youth. Malo te pikitakau mo tenei moemitiga mo Tokelau.”

At the heart of the event is the Walter Nash Centre in Taitā which will host the opening ceremony at noon on Friday 29 March. The venue will also host the Tokelau Cultural Dance Showcase, the Kaiga Wellbeing Expo and the closing ceremony. Various sporting events – basketball, netball, rugby league and Tag – will be held at venues across Lower Hutt, including Fraser Park Sportsville.

It’s expected to boost the local economy by more than $1 million.

Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry says the welcome mat has been laid out for the Tokelauan community.

“The Tokelau Easter Festival was severely disrupted during the pandemic so we are delighted that we can welcome it back for the first time since 2017.

“Lower Hutt will come alive with colour and sound of Tokelau over Easter, adding vibrancy, fun and a huge shot of culture to the city. Malo te aofia mai – welcome to you all.”

About 8600 Tokelauans live in Aotearoa New Zealand, with the majority living in the Wellington region. There are around 1500 living in Tokelau.

The Tokelau Easter Festival will be live streamed. You can view it here.

 

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