Polyfest sees highest turnout with a day to go

Thousands of school children from the Pacific are gearing up for their final day of competition at Polyfest on Saturday.

The annual four-day celebration of Polynesian culture has already attracted more visitors than ever this year and there's a push for even more diversity.

Polyfest is four days of the best in Pacific culture, with music, food and on-stage competition.

Among the 242 performing groups is one who's come to New Zealand from a Rarotongan high school for the very first time. 

Those who've been around Polyfest all the way through its 43 years say connecting people is the big reward.

And for many, it gives them access to their Pacific roots for the very first time.

'Grandma' of Polyfest Mama Tupou says: "Some of them struggle to pronounce the words correctly, but I tell them it's not about that, it's about who you are."

This year, there is a wider push for a diverse range of ethnicities to experience the festival.

On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the first Labour Prime Minister to attend Polyfest.

"We will be a nation where one-in-five in the future will be Maori or Pasifika - that is who we are," she said.

Even though Polyfest this year is the biggest ever, it's hoped a wider group of kiwis will come along on its final day on Saturday.