HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly 3,000 delegates from 28 nations will come to Honolulu in June for one of the largest Pacific festivals.
Hawaii is hosting the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture from June 10-21.
Although Hawaii has been part of every festival since 1976, this is the first year that it will be held in Honolulu.
“This is not just a regular festival. In fact, it is the Olympics of the Pacific,” said state Sen. J. Kalani English, who is also the FESTPAC Hawaii chairman.
“Hawaii is looked upon as the Big Brother in the Pacific, the older sibling, and for many years, we have tried to reach out to the Pacific, tried to work with the Pacific in small ways,” he added.
“Well, this is a big way to do it.”
FESTPAC is an opportunity for different nations to showcase its culture and traditions.
The festival is held every four years in a different Pacific Island Nation. This year’s theme: E ku i ka hoe uli (Take hold of the steering paddle).
The state Legislature created a nine-member commission to oversee the planning of FESTPAC and appropriated approximately $2.4 million for the festival.
Chris Tatum, the Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO said, they will also be providing an additional $500,000 in funding to support the festival.
“Our investment in this historic event is to ensure that all who come to FESTPAC Hawaii will experience the beauty of our state and learn about our unique history and what guides are values today,” said Tatum.
In addition to showcasing different cultures, the festival will serve as a venue for conversations on hot topics and issues that Pacific Islanders face such as climate change, rising sea levels and social inequality.
Kumu Hula Snowbird Bento, a FESTPAC commissioner, echoes these remarks about the festival being a venue to foster these conversations. She said her experiences as a delegate, which dates back to 1992 in the Cook Islands, helped her understand the significance of the festival.
“I was so proud to come from Hawaii,” said Bento.
“I was so proud to be Hawaiian because that was where we could interface from one country to the next, as people. Its taught me that when I look at Hawaii, we consider ourselves a melting pot. We have to always be mindful of the relationships we create.”
English also noted that although there are concerns about the Coronavirus and measles, they are actively working with the Department of Health to “ensure that everyone is properly vaccinated and has the clearances when they come into Hawaii.”