The magic of the Regional Polyfest festivals
It's that time of the year where the buzz of excitement begins to kick in as the Secondary Schools cultural groups are currently preparing for Regional Polyfest festivals across Aotearoa. The ambience of nervousness, suspense, passion, and anxiety waits for our Pasifika students when they showcase locally who they are and where they come from. It’s such a magical event that embraces the true meaning of biculturalism and multiculturalism from different walks of life.
There are many forms of primary and secondary school cultural festivals, but none bigger than Auckland Secondary Schools’ ASB Polyfest, who will be celebrating their 40th anniversary in a few weeks time. Congratulations on your success and longevity of service to the wider community! An amazing accomplishment thus far, and may you continue to drive the vision of scaffolding the future for our Pasifika learners, parents, families, and communities. In my opinion, this event stands alone for providing the best atmosphere for bringing a diverse group of communities together to celebrate culture, language, and identity as one neighbourhood.
It's surprising how many schools don't assess their students for Polyfest using NCEA credits
I was fortunate to attend the festival last year as part of the CORE Education Pasifika professional development fono, and I was stunned to hear from some Pasifika parents about the number of secondary schools that don’t assess their children for Polyfest using NCEA Dance credits. I felt for them because I know, as a parent, I have been advocating for Polyfest credits in the past 3 years for my daughter’s Pasifika group. Christchurch is no different.
For many Pasifika groups, the time and effort the students put into their preparation, is nothing short of aspirational. Some groups have started preparation since the beginning of the term, some groups have been preparing for months. We’re talking about rehearsals during lunchtimes, after school, weekends, and during the holidays. If you’re looking for what Pasifika collaboration, connectedness, and agency may look like, I encourage you to attend one of their performance practices. It defines the meaning of reciprocity of teaching and learning between the seniors and juniors — an ideal environment where our young upcoming Pasifika students understand that pathway to leadership is through service.
Christchurch Polyfest preparing for a first
Christchurch SpacPac Polyfest is gearing up for the first time as an outdoor event to be held on 21st March at Westminster Park. Christchurch SpacPac has been around for over 15 years. Participating secondary schools hail from the top of the South Island (such as Nelson Boys College), right to the bottom of the South Island (such as Southland Girls’ High School). They have participated in the festival over the years, and it’s overwhelming to see such a diverse group of learners across the South Island participate with enthusiasm, energy, and passion. As a proud Pacific Islander, it’s more powerful and inspiring to witness non-Pasifika students such as Palagi students dance and sing songs that are foreign to them. Check out this video clip where a Korean student leads the Epsom Girls Grammar in a performance and won the best Fuataimi (conductor) prize at the Samoan stage last year. She also gained Excellence credits for her performance.
Although Auckland has been setting the standards for high quality performances for 40 years, Christchurch should be proud of setting their own performance standards. Some secondary schools offer Polyfest credits, and I commend them for being responsive and proactive. Other schools don’t know what they don’t know and must look at ways of implementing these cultural credits as part of their school-wide assessments.
My plea for Polyfest credits
In reference to my advocacy for Polyfest credits for my daughter’s school, the Principal and the Music teacher are willing to offer singing credits for the Pasifika group. As a parent, it’s a small step in the right direction, but the girls and the parents are screaming for dance credits.
I believe some secondary schools need to rethink their wider-assessment criteria and take a serious look at how other schools reward Pasifika groups for the mammoth time and effort put in to represent their school with pride. The impact of offering NCEA Dance and Music credits for Polyfest can only enhance Pasifika student achievement. It can also have a positive impact on the Pasifika community. On a personal note, it’s the right thing to do. It’s 2015, never too late to encounter change.
Finally, I would like to share a video where Manu Faaea-Semeatu talks about NCEA Polyfest credits on Tagata Pasifika 2014. Best wishes to all participants of all the regional secondary schools Polyfests. Stand tall, brown, and proud!