Fusion of Pacific cultures to fore
Pasifika Fusion entrants from Horowhenua College were placed in three categories at Pasifika Fusion in Palmerston North over two days at the beginning of the month. The students won the Cultural section for the fifth time (and the second year in a row) with a 19-minute piece consisting of dances and songs from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, and Tuvalu. “These students worked extremely hard, with help from parents and tutors, to create a performance that was authentic and at the same time exciting and new,” said the college’s Pasifika dean Jessica Foster. Pasifika Fusion is a community education initiative where secondary schools are invited to highlight their student’s Pacific cultures as well as showcase their academic abilities. The event has a wide range of categories that students can enter — culture, speech, talent, debate, quiz, poetry, essay, drama, cinematography, wearable arts, science, and visual arts. Horowhenua College students — Misipeka Ana, Valerie Atonio, Philip Finau, and Casey Harding — also won the Drama category with a fiveminute piece that reflected the struggle young Pasifika students face, the effects on their wellbeing, and how culture plays a role in helping them find strength. Another group of students — Natesha Paki-Falamoe, Miliama Tausi, and Pusa Fonoti — were third in the Wearable Arts category with a piece they created that was modelled after the costume a Samoan Taupou (ceremonial hostess) wears when she dances. Foster said, “The inspiration behind the piece was Samoan identity and how this influences wellbeing. “It looked at the effects of growing up in New Zealand and how New Zealand-born Samoans don’t have access to an authentic Samoan upbringing.” Being involved in such an event as Pasifika Fusion teaches the students that hard work and dedication often result in success and therefore if the same values are applied to their education they will go far, said Foster. “The students had so many extracurricular activities to juggle [as well as] school plus a demanding home life and for them to dedicate themselves to long practice hours for several days of the week for the opportunity to showcase their culture was something that I was very proud to see,” she said. Years 9 to 13 students were involved in the competition, originating from all over the Pacific, and of the 50 students in the group more than half (27) were boys. Due to Covid-19 forcing the cancellation of the competition last year, the college had a huge number of students who were new to the event and had never experienced anything like Pasifika Fusion before. “The group was the largest number of students we have ever taken to the event and this year we also had the largest number of boys participating,” Foster said.