Hawaiʻi to Host a Dynamic Festival Comprised of 28 Pacific Nations


HONOLULU, HI – Hawaiʻi will host the monumental 13th Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture (FESTPAC) for the first time in the event’s nearly 50-year history.  It is the world’s largest celebration of Pacific Islanders.

FESTPAC, which is held once every four years, is scheduled for June 10 – 21, 2020. Three-thousand artists, cultural practitioners, scholars and leaders from 28 Pacific Island nations will gather on Oʻahu. Participants will share their knowledge and artistry with each other and thousands of spectators from Hawaiʻi and around the world. 

“The Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture will be an opportunity for us to share our aloha spirit, our cultural traditions and contemporary arts with the world,” stated Governor David Ige. “It is also an opportunity to discuss important issues facing cultures in our region.”

“We are honored to welcome this incredible showcase of Pacific cultures here to Hawaiʻi,” added State Senate Majority Leader and FESTPAC Commission Chairperson J. Kalani English. “As islanders, our very existence is dependent on sustainability. Together we can celebrate our culture and face our future together.”

The theme of this yearʻs festival is “E kū i ka hoe ʻuli” (Take hold of the steering paddle), encouraging indigenous people to steer their own course now and into the future. 

“This spectacular festival evolved out of the concern for the sustainability of our traditional arts and cultural practices—as a way to ensure that those vital elements of our culture are passed on, appreciated and perpetuated by future generations,” said Vicky Holt Takamine, Festival Director.   “FESTPAC will help us identify priorities and take action to protect our people and future generations in perpetuity.” 

In 2012, Hawaiʻi was the selected host by the Pacific Community (SPC), an international organization dedicated to empowering Pacific Islands, Countries and Territories and their people. SPC ensures that these Pacific Islanders have the knowledge, technical ability and resources to thrive and sustain their livelihood, arts and cultural practices.  In addition to dynamic live performances, hands-on demonstrations and cultural workshops, FESTPAC serves as a platform for key social, economic and environmental sustainability issues faced by each nation.

“There’s a whole focus around what is our traditional knowledge when it comes to climate-smart agriculture and practices that help sustain food security and help us protect the environment,” explains Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago-Elisara, SPC Director of Social Development.  “For example, a lot of our handicrafts and cultural products come from the coconut tree.  We know it’s not an infinite resource, so how can we continue to sustain the cultural production without creating risks to the environment and to the sustainability of this product?”   

The first South Pacific Arts Festival was held in Fiji in 1972 in an effort to stop the erosion of traditional practices and to strengthen relationships among the nations of Oceania.  Fourteen nations took part in that first gathering.  Hawaiʻi first participated in 1976. In 1980, the event became known as the Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture, to include all of the Pacific.  The festival has grown with each celebration, doubling in size and the number of nations participating.

For more information on FESTPAC Hawaiʻi 2020, including a list of participating nations, visitwww.www.festpachawaii.org.


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Donalyn Dela Cruz
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