ASB Polyfest 2022

Radio New Zealand Pacific Journalist, Lydia Lewis, recently wrote a post about Polyfest 2022, which occurred this past week at Avondale College in New Zealand…

For more information and videos about Polyfest 2022, click here.

For 15-year-old Auckland student Sally Toloa, Polyfest, the biggest Pacific cultural competition in the world, is much more than a dance competition. The Avondale College student arrived in New Zealand from Samoa in mid January.

Speaking in her mother tongue, Gagana Samoa, to RNZ Pacific she explained that the reason she moved to New Zealand was because her Aunty wanted her to get a better education.

If moving to another country amid a pandemic isn’t hard enough she joined a talented Polyfest group with only one month to prepare. In pre-covid times Polyfest teams would spend months hashing out dance moves.

Toloa said she loves being on stage and has performed in Samoa before.

She said Covid-19 has made planning tough, “students didn’t know who might suddenly need to isolate,” meaning everyone has had little time to prepare.


Despite these challenges, McNaughton said, “they’ve wrapped around her and she has made really good friendships, the confidence that she can speak her mind is a very different Sally that we saw about a month ago,”

Avondale College is hosting the Diversity stage at ASB Polyfest 2022.

She said Sally was very shy when she first started, but has blossomed as she made friends and is respected by the team.

McNaughton also said the teams will be thinking of all of the students who have not been able to perform this year due to Covid-19.

She said students like Sally Toloa will be carrying them in their thoughts as they perform. “Some kids who grew up in New Zealand speak better Samoan than kids from Samoa, they grow up in Samoa knowing Samoan customs and traditions but come here to New Zealand and they no longer know what to do. So I teach them, so they understand the Samoan customs and traditions they grew up with,” Toloa said.

Deputy Principal Brenda McNaughton said Sally Toloa has contributed a lot to the group.

Avondale’s Samoan Group are reigning champions of the Co-ed Samoan Stage at the ASB Polyfest. They have placed in the top three every year since 2002. Last year, the Avondale College Tongan Group also brought home two trophies, coming first in the Soke and first in the Lakalaka; and the Niuean Group placed first in the Lologo Tapu Tuai and third in the competitive Takalo.

The school’s focus on excellence in the Polyfest has enhanced the rest of Sally Toloa’s education.

She said she misses her parents greatly, they are still in Samoa, but is grateful they have invested in a better education for her.

“It is hard with Covid-19. I enjoy practicing Samoan culture in our Samoan group. I want them to learn about the Samoan way and learn about my culture,” Toloa said.

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