Poly Odyssey was a rich Pasifika experience delivered alongside Polyfest Hutt Valley during the week of 2 July 2018. Poly Odyssey surpassed expectations for both the organisers and the 50 schools, early childhood centres and learning organisations that attended. Approximately 15,000 Hutt Valley students, fanau and friends experienced Poly Odyssey and Polyfest Hutt Valley.
The theme of Poly Odyssey was Ko tatou e tahi i te moana Pahewhika, We are one in the Pacific Ocean. Students were captivated by the different languages, customs and storytelling from five Pasifika nations – Cook Islands, Māori, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga. They also explored a tape art labyrinth and got to sit in a full sized Vaka Atafaga.
To deliver Poly Odyssey, Te Awakairangi Health Network and Healthy Families Lower Hutt created a leadership group and a wellbeing framework alongside local Pasifika indigenous knowledge holders, and leaders with an arts, health or education background.
Ana So’otaga, Manager Health Promotion at Te Awakairangi Health Network says “Our goal was to see students experience authentic Pasifika practices and customs from our very own knowledge holders. We wanted students to experience a sense of wellbeing, in ways we see as important to Pasifika:
- gaioi = be active
- foaki = give knowledge and presence
- tokanga = take notice and reflect
- ako = keep learning.
We know this was achieved as children connected and learnt with village leaders and indigenous knowledge holders.”
“As well as enriching our children, the elders, teachers and leaders from our communities got to experience the joy of sharing their expertise and skills with a whole new generation of young people.”
Hon Aupito William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples visited Poly Odyssey on Thursday 5 July.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Poly Odyssey. It was an enjoyably and culturally rich experience to learn about the Pacific islands, the vast Pacific ocean waters, some of the cultural practices like Tokelauan fishing practices, the Cook Islands ura or dance, or the Samoan way of extracting pure coconut oil.”
“The Poly Odyssey experience was engaging and fun for the students and I thought it was a very powerful way for them to learn about their Pacific cultural heritage, language and the arts, especially with our Pacific elders sharing their experiences.”
A highlight of the event was experiencing Vaka Atafaga which was generously loaned by Atafu Tokelau Community Group. At the Vaka, all the students learnt about how our different Pasifika nations are connected and how we all have common ways to wellbeing. Students then had the chance to take a seat and oar to have their “Moana moment”.
With this being the first ever event like Poly Odyssey in the Hutt Valley, the organisers are now reflecting on how they can enable more of our community to participate in future years.
Images and video available on request.