Please read the detailed account of the Polyfest experience from one of our students Ashna Kumar (Year 13).
Kam na bane ni Mauri and Warm Pasifika greetings. It was such an honour to be able to proudly represent our school at Polyfest to share our language and culture, not only for our school, but for our island. There are 16 of us altogether and within that there are 6 non-Kiribati girls. They have joined us in our love for dance and seem to love it just as much as us i-kiribati girls do. In our lead up to Polyfest, we were practicing at lunchtimes and after school for 5 solid weeks with Maese Baroko, another student who is in Year 12, and Tamoa Emeree, an ex-Pukekohe High School student as additional support in the final week to polish up the movements. To meet the standard set by Polyfest, we chose 2 songs from our island which linked strongly to ocean themes. We were able to learn dances to these songs and dress in traditional costumes provided for us by our families.
Our first item was titled “Anganai Baim Nee” which means ‘give me your hand.’ Our second item was called “Marakei Abau Bwa Te Kan” which means ‘my beautiful island, Marakei.’ We chose these songs because it draws on an image of the ocean surrounding us. We come together to dance in the ocean – this is a tradition in Kiribati. As Marakei is just one of 32 beautiful atolls surrounded by ocean, we could almost say that we come from the ocean and are surrounded by atolls. These songs represent us all coming together and unifying as one- connecting with those around as the ocean connects with us
On the day of performance, we were able to enjoy time together watching other groups including our school’s Tongan group who we thought did an amazing job on stage. We could also see many other cultures on the diversity stage including Korean, African, Punjabi, Tuvaluan and Fijian to name a few.
As a Year 13 student, I was very proud of the outcome of this year’s Kiribati group. Polyfest 2019 was a success to us because we were able to teach those who had never experienced Kiribati dancing before. If I could do it again, I would. I hope we can continue to show our love for our country and dance in school and we look forward to also learning more Tuvaluan dancing this year.
As we us i-Kiribati people say with pride – “Health, Peace and Prosperity. Te Mauri, Te Raoi ao Te Tabomoa”.
Ashna Kumar (Year 13) and Lauren Sharpe (TIC)