Climate change front of people's minds at Auckland's Pasifika Festival

The Pasifika Festival is always a feast for the senses by celebrating the bright colours, smells and sounds from the Pacific. 

But this year it also had spaces for people to hold conversations on the challenges faced by the islands with the topic of climate change at the front of people's minds.

Auckland's Western Springs transformed into Pasifika Paradise on Saturday.

Showcasing the best of the islands and giving others a taste of home.

For stall holder Marieta Toalepai it's a special time for reflection.

"I came here in 1987 with my young children but now they're all growing up," Toalepai told Newshub.

Her stall at the Pasifika Festival held goods made of the land.

"Earrings are made of coconut shells, these nuts like olalopo which are grown in Samoa," Toalepai said.

But the changing climate is affecting natural resources.

"One treasure that we hold dear to us is a little yellow shell called the hihi. A lot of Niue people wear it, it's really small, it's Niue gold," Pasifika Festival attendee Kirsten Filo said.

"Due to climate change, it's getting harder and harder to find these little shells."

At the 2023 Pasifika Festival, there were also spaces to share generational knowledge, to have quiet conversations, and the real-time challenges of climate change were front of mind.

"Our Pacific nations are incredibly aware of the effects of climate change and it's a regular topic of conversation," Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Those conversations and the need for action is becoming more urgent.

Earlier this month back-to-back cyclones wreaked havoc on islands in Vanuatu.

"Festivals like this are an opportunity to have those conversations with people that they know what they're doing and they're prepared as well," Hipkins said.

Weaving together our shared solutions to a problem now on our doorstep.