New south Auckland cultural festival to complement Pasifika and ASB Polyfest

You won’t catch Lotu Fuli or Rana Judge dancing on stage at an upcoming cultural festival.

The pair are leading the first Cultural Diversity Festival in Manukau, south Auckland, and they’re happy behind the scenes.

Ōtara Business Association manager Judge says he’s not a dancer, while Fuli, chairwoman of Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board, is happy seeing upcoming performers flourish.

“My performing days are over,” Fuli says.

The festival, being held on April 7, is the board’s opportunity to capitalise on the success of March events like ASB Polyfest and Pasifika.

More than 12 countries will be represented at the event, including India, Hong Kong, and Tonga, with performances, games, and food stalls.

It’s not competitive like Polyfest, Fuli says, but gives people another taste of culture closer to home than Pasifika, which is held in Western Springs.

With a make up of Pacific, Asian, Māori and European communities across the board area, the event provides an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of its population.

Local sports clubs, youth groups, and community stakeholders will host stalls at the event for no cost, allowing them an opportunity to fundraise for their groups.

“We want ours to be community run and community led festival. A big criticism of Pasifika is it’s become so commercial,” Fuli says.

“When Pasifika started it was nine people who wanted to have a community event . . . then it grew, and grew, and grew, and now it’s a huge business.”

The board has been discussing hosting an event like it for years, finally putting wheels into motion in 2017 and investing $35,000 into it.

Judge, who is organising the festival, says it’s a great opportunity to bring the community together.

“Manukau is a very multicultural town and we’ve got so many different cultures and this is an opportunity for people to explore that,” Judge says.

It’s good to acknowledge our diversity and people can learn about each other’s cultures and taste new food, he says.

Fuli expects the event won’t be a once-off and hopes it will become an annual affair, with the capacity to grow it and invest more into future festivals after this year’s.

Bollywood dancers and Chinese lion dance is what she’s most looking forward to on the day, while Judge is hoping to enjoy the Chinese and Indian food.

The Cultural Diversity Festival is on April 7 from 10am to 5pm at Hayman Park in Manukau.