23 Apr 2015

Frustration vent over running of Pasifika

6:26 am on 23 April 2015

Members of Auckland's Pacific communities have vented their frustration at council organisations, saying they're not having enough input into their own cultural festival.

The Pasifika Festival.

The Pasifika Festival. Photo: ATEED

About 40 representatives of the different communities met last night, with local board members to discuss the annual Pasifika Festival.

They said they did not feel as connected to it culturally as they should, and that funding was pitifully low, at $350,000 for the two-day event.

Much of the criticism was directed at those in charge of Auckland Council's events arm - ATEED.

The Reverend Uesifili Unasa said the heart of the issue was financial viability.

"ATEED and Council have let Pacific people down, not just in the last festival but right throughout the history of the festival," he said.

I think ATEED has failed to actually do it's job ... the Pacific festival actually has got more economic potential."

Others agreed funding was too low, but also questioned how much input communities have, and asked where all the annual feedback from each event went.

Chair of the Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board and driving force behind the new meetings, Fa'anānā Efeso Collins, wanted to put a community reference group in place.

He wanted the festival to be an authentic cultural experience.

"I'm anxious that we are still the performing monkeys of this country. How can we make sure that this is a truly Pasifika driven, our communities can be part of it-type of event?"

ATEED chief executive Brett O'Riley answered questions throughout the meetings and said it was interesting to understand some of the previous governance models used.

He said before the amalgamation of the councils in Auckland there was a reference group appointed by the community which provided direction for the festival.

"Clearly that fell away at the time of amalgamation," he said.

"Having that voice of the community represented is really important, because today we rely on a lot of our feedback from the [festival] village co-ordinators and there's a sense from the representatives here tonight, that they want more of a voice than just that of the co-ordinators."

More meetings are expected to take place over the next few months.

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