By Sera Tikotikovatu-Sefeti
The 50th anniversary of the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture was marked in Suva this month with fire-dancjng and Rotuman rhythms, as well as contemporary dances and songs.
The theme ‘Na wekaqu, noqu iyau’ which means ‘My relationships are my heritage and wealth,” put a spotlight on kinships and relationships. In this traditional worldview, it pays homage to the various connections the people across the region have to each other and their surroundings.
The anniversary celebration included the launch of the Pacific Regional Cultural Strategy 2022-2032.
Pacific Community (SPC) Director General, Stuart Minchin, reiterated the critical role that culture plays in development.
SPC is ‘custodian’ of the Pacific Regional Cultural Strategy and the Festival of Arts & Culture, which will next be held in Hawaii.
“We are guided by four values: care, stewardship, generosity, and unity,” he said.
The Pacific Regional Cultural Strategic Plan focuses on five priority themes: cultural policy framework, cultural heritage, cultural wellbeing, cultural innovation, and cultural statistics.
Chair of the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture, Mapuana de Silva, said the heart of the strategy is the understanding that culture is the lifeblood of communities across the region.
“For us, civic culture is at the core of who we are, and speaks to both our connection to a place and our ocean identities,” De Silva said.
“Our future is in our past,” she said. “[It] is a reminder of the rich cultural wealth of our diverse communities.”
The event was attended by Pacific leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in Suva. New Caledonia’s President, Louis Mapou, was excited to see Kanaky represented in the photo exhibition at the event.
“I’m really happy that I saw my Kanak people amongst the exhibition,” Mapou said.
Fiji President Viliame Katonivere, was the chief guest at the event, noted: “Much has been said in the past about reviving and using the traditional practices of our forefathers to address the issues we currently face particularly with climate change as with other issues we face … we must ensure that we incorporate the culture agenda in our various spheres of influence.”
The exhibition took guests on a journey to the past with its unique cultural memorabilia and photos.
The next Festival of Pacific Arts will be held in Hawaii in 2024.