Tens of thousands flock to Auckland's Western Springs for Pasifika Festival extravaganza

Tens of thousands crammed into Auckland's Western Springs on Saturday to celebrate one of the most highly anticipated festivals on the New Zealand calendar.

The weather managed to hold out for Pasifika Festival which saw dancers, food stalls and politicians bask in the good vibes.

"It's iconic," one family told Newshub.

"The Nutella chocolate, mmmmm," said another.  

A performer who'd just come off the stage said "it is special, I come here every year". And when asked how this one rated, she said "10".  

Eleven Pacific Island nations were represented at the festival at the Western Springs venue.

Food stalls were cooking up a storm. Ice cream served on an entire half of watermelon proved especially popular.

"Mate, I'm in heaven," was one reaction to the sweet treat.  

Forty-thousand people are expected at the event over the weekend.

"It's just magic," said Tātaki Auckland's Annie Dundas. "A phenomenal number of people, so it's brilliant."

The festival's headliners 'The Royal Family' stole the show. Highly acclaimed and beloved internationally, the dance troupe act is among the best in the world. For some of the dancers Pasifika Festival was a homecoming.

"Representing our families and culture, and giving back; it's just amazing," Teesha Taulepa, a Royal Family dancer, told Newshub.

"My mum literally cried, my mum cried! I was like 'mum why are you crying!' Just a proud moment."

And while it mostly smiles and laughter, an event this big couldn't help but get a little political. Prime Minister Christopher Luxon was out and about, dancing and snapping pics with festival-goers.

"When I talk to this community," said Luxon, "it is really about how we do lower the cost of living, how do we keep people feeling safe, how do we deliver better health and education." 

Labour deputy leader Carmel Sepuloni was surrounded by loved ones when Newshub bumped into her.

"The repeal of smokefree legislation," she said, "that's just one of many policies that's going to have a disproportionate impact on our Pacific communities."

There's more to go on Sunday, so if you missed out on Saturday, there's still plenty more to see - but be warned. Finding a parking spot is easier said than done.