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The Pacific Festivals of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Pacific Festivals of Aotearoa New Zealand: Negotiating Place and Identity in a New Homeland

Jared Mackley-Crump
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    The Pacific Festivals of Aotearoa New Zealand
    Book Description:

    With a history now stretching back four decades, Pacific festivals of Aotearoa assert a multicultural identity of New Zealand and situate the country squarely within a sea of islands. In this volume Jared Mackley-Crump gives a provocative look at the changing demographics and cultural landscape of a place frequently viewed through a bicultural lens, Pakeha and Maori.

    Taking the post-World War II migrations of Pacific peoples to New Zealand as its starting point, the story begins in 1972 with the inaugural Polynesian Festival, an event that was primarily designed as a Māori festival, now known as Te Matatini, the largest Māori performing arts event in the world. Two major moments of festivalization are considered: the birth of Polyfest in 1976, and the inaugural Pasifika Festival of 1993. Both began in Auckland, the home of the largest Pacific communities in New Zealand, and both have spawned a series of events that follow these models they successfully established. While Polyfests focus primarily on the transmission of performance traditions from culture bearers to the young, largely New Zealand-born generations, Pasifika festivals are highly public community events, in which diverse displays of material culture are offered up for consumption by both cultural tourists and Pacific communities alike. Both models have experienced a significant period of growth since 1993, and here, the author presents a thought-provoking and wide-ranging analysis to explain the phenomenon that has been called a "Pacific renaissance."

    Written from an ethnomusicological perspectiveThe Pacific Festivals of Aotearoa New Zealandincorporates lively first-person observations as well as interviews with festival organizers, performers, and other important historical figures. The second half of the book delves into the festival space, uncovering new meanings about the function and role of music performance and public festivity. The author skillfully challenges accounts that label festivals as inauthentic recreations of culture for tourist audiences and gives both observers and participants an uplifting new approach to understand these events as meaningful and symbolic extensions of the ways diasporic Pacific communities operate in New Zealand.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3872-0
    Subjects: Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Glossary
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    There is something powerfully intoxicating about festivals. Their ubiquity across time periods and cultures attests to their importance in fulfilling a basic human need to come together for the purposes of collective ritual and celebration. In contemporary Western societies, these festivals—once centered primarily on religious observance, seasons and harvests, and life-cycle events—have been both retained and expanded. Festivals are now commercial enterprises, and we have festivalized numerous aspects of our lifestyles and the places in which we live. Festivals have also become globalized, or, perhaps more appropriately, glocalized. The increasing movement of peoples and cultures across the world...


    • CHAPTER 1 Migration and Festivalization: How New Zealand Became a Center of the Pacific Diaspora
      (pp. 23-44)

      The beginning point of understanding Pacific festivals in New Zealand is migration and the creation of diaspora; the story cannot be told without first discussing how communities of people from other Pacific nations came to call New Zealand home. The creation of diaspora is crucial: the act of migrating to New Zealand, where the generic term “Pacific Islander” did not differentiate among nations or islands, and certainly not among villages, created a commonality based on historical connections and cultural similarities. In addition, a new commonality was created, the result of migrants being located in similar sociocultural circumstances once in New...

    • CHAPTER 2 A Pacific Renaissance? Understanding Festivalization
      (pp. 45-63)

      The development of Pacific festivals in Aotearoa New Zealand is the result of two key moments: the inaugural Polyfest in 1976 and the first Pasifika Festival in 1993. These two key moments, which influenced many festivals and inspired the spread of festivals across Aotearoa New Zealand, occurred in Auckland. The fact that Auckland was the first port of entry for the majority of Pacific migrants and the main area in which the labor shortages existed explains this. Large communities of Pacific migrants were first established in several Central Auckland suburbs before spreading into South and West Auckland, and two-thirds of...

    • CHAPTER 3 Contextualizing the Ethnographic Space
      (pp. 64-92)

      The discussion chapters of Part II are based on two periods of fieldwork carried out at the 2010 Positively Pasifika Festival in Wellington and the 2010 Pasifika Festival in Auckland. The Pasifika Festival, as is clear by now, is central to the story of Pacific festivals in New Zealand and is the largest Pacific festival in the world. By contrast, Wellington’s Positively Pasifika Festival is one of the newer additions to the Pacific festival landscape. Wellington, however, represents one of the other key sites in both the story of Pacific festivals and the development of Pacific cultural expression in New...


    • CHAPTER 4 Logistics, Leadership, and Development
      (pp. 95-118)

      This book is my response to a question: Do festivals and festival performances reflect how the Pacific diaspora is constructed, imagined, and situated within New Zealand? Part I provided some answers. Pacific festivals were developed as diasporic communities themselves developed and evolved, as a response to sociopolitical and sociocultural marginalization, and as a result of the first generations of New Zealand–born Pacific peoples coming of age, some expressing through art the negotiation of new urban Pacific identities, others moving into positions where they were able to influence and support these creative endeavors. The second half of this book moves...

    • CHAPTER 5 Performances
      (pp. 119-143)

      Music and performance constitute two key elements of the Pacific festival space, whether through staged performances or in recorded form booming from stalls to attract passersby. Music creates the sonic landscape of Pacific festivity, an aural and visual accompaniment to the food, art and crafts, and community collectivity of the multisensory experience. A discussion of music within the Pacific festival space, its meanings and functions, can therefore illuminate how the Pacific diaspora operates in New Zealand. The particular perspective of ethnomusicology shows how diasporic Pacific peoples negotiate, or edgewalk, between the cultures of island homelands, community elders, migrants and ancestors,...

    • CHAPTER 6 Community
      (pp. 144-168)

      Festivals are overwhelmingly constructed as community spaces in a broad sense: events where groups of people are brought together in celebration of particular interests, cultures, lifestyles, and so forth. The notion of community, unsurprisingly, then, is one of the central themes of the Pacific festival space. However, this chapter demonstrates that the notion of community is multiple and especially significant in the context of the Pacific Islands, a group of related cultures that emphasize community and collectivity over individuality. I have well established that the Pacific communities in New Zealand are characterized by fluidity. Initially they comprised small groups of...

    • CHAPTER 7 Place and Identity
      (pp. 169-194)

      Throughout the course of this research, the intricately intertwined nature of place and identity was an overwhelmingly central theme, and so it falls to the final chapter to attempt to address this most complex notion. Again and again discussion and observation revolved around or returned to the way in which these concepts are apparent through song and dance and manifested within and by the festival space. Pacific festivals are centered primarily on performances of these concepts, whether through music, food, dress, art and crafts, or simply community interaction. Ideas of Pacific homelands, cultures, and identities, their place within New Zealand,...

  7. Conclusion: Pacific Festivals and Diasporic Flow
    (pp. 195-204)

    This book began with a broad question: Do Pacific festivals reflect the ways in which the Pacific diaspora is situated and imagined and has evolved in New Zealand, and how are music and musical performances implicated in these processes? For diasporic peoples, music and the arts in general “epitomize the process of cultural translation, making sense of the circumstances and experiences of life” and creating ways that allow new ideas to be communicated (Mallon and Pereira 2002, 7). In four decades of development, Pacific festivals have come to provide a highly public medium through which these new ideas can be...

  8. References
    (pp. 205-212)
  9. Index
    (pp. 213-216)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 217-223)