New venue announced for NZ's 2021 Nesian Festival

Organisers of New Zealand's Nesian Festival in the Waikato region have confirmed a new date and venue for the event, while keeping a close eye on the recent Covid-19 updates from the government.

The event begun in 2007 to give the Pacific community in Hamilton; an annual Pacific festival; a Pacific early learning space; and a Pacific health service.

K'aute Pasifika is a charitable trust based in Hamilton, providing health, education and social services to Pasifika communities and other ethnicities.

The trust is also the organisers of the Nesian Festival and this year have announced that it will take place on Saturday 27 March 2021 and for the first time, it will be held at the University of Waikato sportsground.

K'aute Pasifika said that as the festival had grown, there was a need for increased parking space and much better traffic flow for the community.

The festival celebrates and showcases the diversity of Pacific cultures and is a free fun-filled day for families, with Pacific artists and performers, food from across Oceania, Pacific arts and crafts and interactive workshops including activities for children.

K'aute Pasifika Chief Executive, Leaupepe Rachel Karalus, said it was too early to say what would happen to the event if the whole country moved to alert level three lockdown.

On Sunday Auckland moved to alert level three, with the rest of New Zealand moving to alert level two following the three Covid-19 community cases.

The restrictions are being reviewed tomorrow.

Leaupepe said the team was constantly reassessing the situation especially as more information becomes available.

"If Nesian Festival was to be cancelled, there will be losses for K'aute Pasifika as we have incurred upfront costs in organising and managing the event," Leaupepe said.

"We have not yet finalised the performers or stallholders, but if it is postponed or cancelled, there will inevitably be losses.

"The closer to the event date the cancellation occurs, the more likely the losses are and also at increased quantum given the costs of preparation," she said.

Last year the festival did not go ahead because K'aute Pasifika were focused on the Pan Pacific Community Hub project . In December 2020, K'aute Pasifika celebrated a symbolic handing over of a Mauri stone from Mana Whenua to the Pacific community. The plans for the building of the hub are now underway and an opening event and formal blessing will occur soon.

In 2019, over 1,200 people attended the Nesian Festival and the organisers are anticipating a greater turnout this year.