Polyfest 2021 returns after two years of cancellations and postponements

Auckland's Polyfest was due to celebrate its 45th anniversary last year - but COVID-19 and a string of lockdowns prevented that from happening.

This year, 8000 students came together to ensure the event went ahead - and torrential rain was not going to get in the way.

The first day of ASB Polyfest was held at Auckland's Manukau Sports Bowl on Wednesday, with a few 'wet weather' accessories accompanying the traditional music, dance and cultural dress.

"Even though the rain is pouring, [we're] spreading the vibes so we can still dance," one person told Newshub.

After two years of cancellations and postponements, a few rain clouds weren't going to dampen anyone's spirits. 

"Still happy! We're on! It doesn't matter, rain or shine, ASB Polyfest will persevere, we've been resilient this far so a little rain won't hurt us!" director Seiuli Terri Leo-Mauu said.

The 45th anniversary of the cultural festival was meant to happen in 2020, but the ongoing pandemic put a stop to the celebrations.

In 2019, the final day of the competition was called off following the March 15th terror attack in Christchurch. 

But this year, the four-day event is back with a bang, making the long wait - and all that practice - worthwhile. 

"The kids, this is where they get their cultural injection. This is where they get to come together and celebrate who they are," Leo-Mauu said.

Eight-thousand secondary school students from 49 Auckland schools will take part in the festival, which concludes on Saturday evening. 

With six stages - Māori, Samoan, Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue and a diversity stage - there are 160 groups performing. 

The theme for this year is 'healing the body, mind, spirit and soul with the strength of culture'.

After two years, the festival and New Zealand has weathered the storm - and never has there been a better reason to come together.