Hawaii, a Polynesian State of the United States of America (USA) is the host of the 2024 Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture (FestPAC), the world’s largest celebration of indigenous Pacific Islanders where artists, cultural practitioners, scholars, and officials from member nations of the Pacific Community (SPC) get together.
The USA is one of the five founding members of SPC alongside, France, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
FestPAC is held every four years in a different Pacific Island location. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions in 2020, the 13th FestPAC, was postponed to 2024. The last event was hosted by Guam in 2016.
For more than 40 years, the festival has been an important venue for the perpetuation of Pacific arts and cultures. It has developed into a unique forum where cultural sharing and learning has enhanced the appreciation of Pacific arts and culture and knowledge of the region. The goals of the festival were developed in 1975 and have remained the driving force of the event.
Mapuana DeSilva, the chair of the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture and representative of the Hawai’i said Hawaii first participated in FestPAC in 1976 and has sent a delegation to every festival since then.
“I have been fortunate to be the head of delegation or the assistant head for the last five years for the delegation of Hawaii and we have been hosted in great ways by all of the countries that we visited, meetings prior and then the festival and it has been obvious that all of the people in the region give their whole heart, gives more than they have for themselves to host their cousins from across the Pacific and want us to have the best experience that we can,” DeSilva said.
“It is now our turn to return the favour to our cousins across the Pacific,” she added.
“It is very important for Hawaii to host the 13th FestPAC, not just to reciprocate the love and the generosity of all those countries that have hosted in the past, but it is our kuleana…our responsibility to our own people, our elders, our values, our cultures.”
“We are a state in the middle of the Pacific, and it is time for us to stand up and be proud and share who we are with everyone who is coming to FestPAC in 2024,” she said.
To finalise the preparations and logistics of the 13th FestPAC, the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture (CPAC) met in Hawaii from 14 – 17 March 2023 for its 36th meeting.
The meeting was an opportunity for all council members to visit some of the sites for cultural activities for the 13th FestPAC event.
Governor of Hawaii, Josh Green at the conclusion of the 36th CPAC meeting, signed a proclamation demonstrating Hawaii’s commitment to hosting the festival.
“In the spirit of collaboration, Hawaii as the host, agrees to work together with SPC [the Pacific Community], to ensure the 13th FestPAC is organised in the best possible manner and takes place under the best possible conditions for the benefit of the Pacific people, in order to leave a sustainable legacy and to contribute to the sustainability and continuity of indigenous Pacific cultures, taking into consideration cultural, economic, social and geographic diversity across SPC’s 27 member countries and territories,” Governor Green said.
Dr Stuart Minchin, Director General of SPC explained that FestPAC is an established festival bringing together artists and cultural operators from all Pacific Nations.
“SPC is proud as custodian of FestPAC, the world’s largest celebration of indigenous Pacific arts and culture. We are honoured to have organised 12 editions of FestPAC to date, on a rotating basis with Polynesian, Micronesian and Melanesian member countries and territories,” he said.
According to Miles Young, Director of SPC’s Human Rights and Social Development Division (HRSD), FestPAC 2024 will feature live performances cultural workshops, hands-on demonstrations, film, storytelling and more, exemplifying the diversity of traditional and contemporary arts and culture across Oceania.
“The event will also underscore the urgent issues Pacific Islanders face – from rising sea levels and the death of coral reefs to widening social inequality – as a way to illuminate our path toward the future,” Young said.
The 36th CPAC meeting unanimously endorsed the bid by New Caledonia to be the hosts of the 14th FestPAC in 2028 and a full bid for the event will be received by the CPAC members next year.