Pasifika Festival 2022 has been cancelled due to risks posed by Omicron.
The Auckland event was due to be held from March 18-20 at Western Springs Park to mark its 30th anniversary.
It’s the second time the event hasn’t been able to go ahead due to Covid. It was cancelled in 2020, and postponed in 2021, before being rescheduled and successfully going ahead a month later. In 2019, it was cancelled after the Christchurch mosque attacks.
Auckland’s Mayor Phil Goff said the cancellation would be disappointing for the Pasifika community and the tens of thousands who were planning on attending.
But he said it was the right call given the risks posed with Omicron, which was spreading rapidly in the community.
“The Pasifika Festival is much loved by Aucklanders and an important celebration of our city’s vibrant and diverse cultures - the decision to cancel it would have been a tough one to make,” he said.
“However, we must put the safety of our communities first and given the uncertainty around the impact of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, a cautious approach is the right one.”
Consultations with the Pasifika community advisers are underway to develop a suite of “hybrid Pasifika events” to be held in May or June, alongside an online programme.
Polyfest scaled back
Polyfest, which usually runs in the week after the Pasifika Festival, confirmed on Friday it was going digital because of the current Red light Covid-19 restrictions.
The four-day programme, which would usually attract about 90,000 people, would be live streamed instead. Only judges would be present for participants' performances.
The event had also been cancelled, postponed, or shortened in the past few years because of the terror attack in 2019, bad weather, and Covid-19 outbreaks.
Polyfest Trust chairperson Robert Solomone said moving online meant students and schools still had the opportunity to perform.
“This year’s festival is not about the size of the event, it’s about the opportunity for our students to participate and to do that in a safe environment," he said.