Pupils preparing for Polyfest

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Cultural pride . . . St Joseph's Cathedral School Polyfest group Pasifika Sunrise members (from left) Reo' Lena Cockburn (7), Avena Alefosio-Tuck (8), Isa Binu (10), Jessica Tupai (9), Motiana Alefosio-Tuck (10), Leilagi Alefosio-Tuck (8), Zkaria Pasese (6) and Lucy Reilly (9) at one of their early morning practices. PHOTO: BEN BOOTSMA

A record number of school pupils will take the stage for this year’s Otago Polyfest.

More than 7000 primary and high school pupils are expected at this week’s event, about 400 more than last year.

Polyfest co-chairwoman Pip Laufiso said the week celebrated Pacific Island culture, song and dance.

It encouraged collaboration between families and schools with a focus on non-competitive skill development.

Polyfest had continued to grow in popularity since it started in 1993.

This year, the 150 groups taking part meant an extra day had been added to the schedule.

Along with the 7000 participants, the event was expected to attract 8000 spectators over the four days.

One of the schools taking part this year is St Joseph’s Cathedral school. It has 74 pupils involved – almost half its total roll.

Acting principal Jo Stanley said the school had strong kapa haka and Pasifika groups – both of which would be taking part in Polyfest – and had been practising regularly, including before school, since term two.

Mrs Stanley said the inclusion of the cultural events had positively affected the pupils’ sense of belonging and cultural pride.

The success was also due to the parents who devoted their time to share their knowledge of Pacific cultures, she said.

Polyfest will be held at the Edgar Sports Centre from today until Friday, September 15.