Cultural festival returns to celebrate Auckland’s diversity

Last Updated : 09 Mar 2023
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Auckland Council’s World of Cultures returns this month to celebrate the incredible cultural diversity of Tāmaki Makaurau.

The 21-day long festival starts on Race Relations Day (21 March), running until 10 April 2023, and promises more than 70 free or low-cost activities and events across the Auckland region.

Auckland Councillor Christine Fletcher says World of Cultures plays an important and worthwhile role for all Aucklanders.

“The diversity of cultures and ethnicities makes Auckland the beautiful and special place it is. Bringing Aucklanders of all ages together to celebrate that diversity helps unite us as a society. People of all of our ethnicities and cultures enrich the cultural fabric of our region.

"Seeing everyone come together and share and celebrate a wide array of food, customs and ways of life makes me proud to be an Aucklander.”

A festival celebrating the unique blend of cultures in Tāmaki Makaurau has taken place since the late 1990s when the Refugee Services Aotearoa NZ asked Auckland City Council to take over their World Refugee Day Celebration. A celebration of our many cultures has grown since that time and in 2019 over 55 cultures from various community organisations were involved. Moving from the one-day Auckland International Cultural Festive event to the multi-day World of Cultures celebration grew out of communities requesting more days and the opportunity for activities to take place across the region.

Auckland Council’s Events Manager David Burt is delighted with the response from community groups.

“One thing that is really uplifting for me every year is Aucklanders’ commitment to celebrate our cultural diversity, and the importance they place in it. Food offerings, dance, music and costumes of different cultures are shared with audiences at World of Cultures events across the region, with groups wanting to celebrate their cultures and help Aucklanders learn more.”

This year’s festival has seven one-day pillar events that offer great opportunities to celebrate the breadth and depth of the cultural landscapes across Tāmaki Makaurau.

Celebrating Cultures on Saturday 25 March is presented by Howick Local Board. Enjoy music, performances, workshops, displays, and exhibitions at this free family fun day out at Barry Curtis Park.

Across town on the same day, the Whau Cultural Celebration takes place at the New Lynn War Memorial Square. Featuring performances and activities from the local cultural groups within the Whau, this will be a great local coming together.

For a taste of the Pacific, head to the New Zealand Maritime Museum on Saturday 25 March for the Moana Oceania open day. Weave with Kiribati mama’s, listen to storytellers and learn about traditional navigation and the Kiribati connection to Taratai, the king of outrigger canoes.

For lots of sporting fun, take in the FootballFest tournament at Walter Massey Park on Sunday 26 March. The beautiful game showcases so much that unites all cultures and this will be on display as diverse communities come together. With the FIFA Women's World Cup in a couple of month’s time, this year’s FootballFest celebrations will centre around women, football and culture, weaving together a memorable and enjoyable event for the whole family.

Or consider having a blast with tamariki and rangitahi for Auckland’s first Play Festival in Western Park on Saturday 8 April. This one-day play festival celebrates cultural identity, facilitates intercultural connections and creates a safe and inclusive environment for people to play, interact and just have fun. Try traditional games, music and food.

CultureFest is the one-day culmination event not to be missed. Head to Mt Roskill’s War Memorial Park on Sunday 2 April to experience more than 60 cultures celebrating their uniqueness in one place on one day.

Auckland Councillor and Chief Liaison Councillor for Council Advisory Panels Julie Fairey says CultureFest is an event she looks forward to every year.

“CultureFest is an absolute highlight for me and my whānau; the food, the colour, the dancing and music, as a wonderful celebration and sharing of our multicultural community.  After a few years when it was hard to connect and meet together, events like this create even wider smiles for us all,” said Fairey.

Councillor Fairey recommends using public transport or active transport to get to CultureFest using the buses on Mt Albert Rd (66), Dominion Road (25L and 25B), and Sandringham Rd (24B), and the excellent shared paths through local parks.

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