New Zealand High Commission Honiara, Solomon Islands
11th Festival of Pacific Arts in Solomon Islands – ‘Culture in Harmony with Nature'
The crews of a fleet of voyaging waka are the latest additions to 2000-plus international arrivals for the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in Solomon Islands.
The event, being held 1-13 July, will be the biggest event yet held in Solomon Islands. The fact that it taking place in one of the poorer countries of the Pacific – and taking place in considerable style - is a clear indication to Solomon Islanders and the rest of the region of just how far the country has come in the nine years since the “The Tensions”.
The Festival is based at a purpose-built traditional village on the edge of town, complete with artificial lake, large performance stages, and fairy lighting strung through the rain trees.
Proceedings got under way this week with a dramatic early-morning traditional welcome that incorporated the waka fleet plus shark and crocodile-calling (a potentially problematic combination) and a colourful afternoon opening ceremony.
New Zealand is represented at the Festival by a 130-strong Aotearoa delegation that covers the whole range of performing and visual arts. Members gave a taste of things to come with a powerful demonstration of kapa haka at an NZ Residence powhiri for the formal heads of the delegation – Maori King Tuheitia’s eldest son, Whatumoana, and the King’s Consort Atawhai.
Local Maori, including Defence Force soldiers and children from the local international school, won plaudits for their fine job of representing Honiara tangatu whenua during the wero, karanga and haka powhiri.
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is visiting the Festival and the NZ delegation this week.