From small beginnings: the ASB Polyfest

On 20 October 1976 Hillary College, Otara - now Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate - hosted the first Auckland Secondary Schools’ Māori and Pacific Islands Cultural Festival. Just 6 groups and 40 performers from 4 schools took part (Aorere College, Mangere College, Seddon High School and Hillary College itself).

The annual event was then held at a variety of schools. From 1996 it found a permanent home at the Manukau Sports Bowl in Clover Park. This offered the space to establish stage areas for different cultures: Māori, Cook Island, Niue, Samoa, Tonga. By this time a ‘Diversity’ stage for other cultures had also been added.

The 25th Festival held at the Sports Bowl in March 2001 involved 13,000 performers and 162 groups from 52 schools.

The festival is gathering strength even today. This year’s festival, which is now known in short as the ASB Polyfest, attracted 223 groups from 62 schools.

See below for a small selection of images taken at various festivals over the years  (all images by courtesy of Fairfax Media):

Footprints 00580, Mrs Hoana Rapatina and Prime Minister David Lange, Mangere, 1986, South Auckland Research Centre
Ref: Footprints 03574, Samoan dance, Mangere, 1992, South Auckland Research Centre
Ref: Footprints 03420, Māori culture group, Mt Albert, 1994, South Auckland Research Centre
Ref: Footprints 03674, Samoan cultural group, Clover Park, 1997, South Auckland Research Centre
Keen to find out more? Browse through the range of Auckland Libraries DVDs relating to past festivals.

Author: Bruce Ringer, South Auckland Research Centre


  1. Where can i find the archives of past asb polyfest performances please?

    Kind Regards

    1. Kia ora - Recordings of radio coverage some years of Polyfest are held in the sound archives at from mid-1980s-2000s.) You can search our online catalogue for schools you are interested in to see if we hold recordings of their performance.

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  3. Hi there, thanks for your enquiry! The Polyfest Collection is held at Research South at Manukau Library, 3 Osterley Way. Find out more about the collection here: Thanks, Zoë - Heritage Collections librarian.


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