Meet the Pacific community

November 08, 2017

Pacific Island students Ree Peric, Josie Laulu Seiuli, Mali Fotu and Shalom Saitaua who will perform at the festival.

Pasifika Festiva program director Mellisa Silaga.

Shepparton’s Queen’s Gardens will come to life this weekend as Pacific music, dance, culture and food takes centre stage.

The Pasifika Festival will be a two-day showcase of Pacific Islander culture taking place at Riverlinks WestSide and the Queen’s Gardens.

Presented by Vic Pasifika Productions in partnership with Multicultural Arts Victoria and Riverlinks, the festival will kick off on Fridaywith an evening of comedy and music.

International comedy star Tofiga Fepuleai will perform his new solo show, I Gant Belive It, to take audiences on a whirlwind ride of life-changing experiences from his childhood and having to grow up around his extended family and the Pacific community.

Audiences will also be treated to an amazing new music performance, PolyFusion Sounds, as Kitchener and Phyllz Robertson take the stage with up-and-coming local young Pacific music talent.

Also appearing in the event will be a number of local Pacific Island-origin high school students, who have put together an act as part of the Know Your Roots program.

Program director Mellisa Silaga said the program ran for 12 weeks and students learned about a number of cultures from the South Pacific.

The students will represent the islands of New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga in a number of musical acts.

Ms Silaga said the program was all about connecting the youth with their traditional culture, something many had unfortunately been disconnected with.

‘‘It’s been a bit difficult for them because they’ve emigrated to Australia and majority are from the Pacific, and the only time when they’ve been reconnected with their culture is when they’re in these kinds of settings, or when they go home for a visit,’’ she said.

‘‘It also allows them to appreciate what they have here in Australia.

‘‘They’ve been able to go back, figure out their roots and how hard life is on the islands, so when they can compare the two they have a lot more respect for the country they live in, as well as the country that they came from.’’

Ms Silaga said the event was the only of its kind in the Goulburn Valley, which created a space for the community to grow contemporary Pacific voices alongside the traditional culture.

‘‘I would encourage everybody to come down and get to know the Pacific community and be a part of it,’’ she said.

‘‘I know that a lot of people have probably been to Fiji, Hawaii and all those places, but there’s a lot more to those islands.’’

The event will take place at WestSide in Mooroopna and the Queen’s Gardens, Shepparton on Friday and Saturday. To book, phone 58329511 or visit www.river

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