Provo celebrates Polynesian culture

iPo Kahaialii talks with her daughter E. Ka’ipo Rokobuludrau after a performance at the Utah Pasifika Festival in Provo, May 27, 2017. Rokobuludrau has a Polynesian dance studio and brings her students to perform at the Pasifika festival each year. (Dani Jardine)

Center Street was filled with Pacific Islander food and culture at the sixth annual Utah Pasifika Festival May 26–28.

Dani Jardine
BYU elementary education student Lauren Miner and Chinese major Daniel Anderson enjoy food at the Utah Pasifika Festival in Provo, May 27, 2017. Anderson attended the festival to experience another culture. (Dani Jardine)

The Utah Pasifika Festival (UPF) organization was formed in Utah out of the pure desire to not only bolster appreciation for and understanding of our Polynesian culture within our communities, but to also ensure our rich heritage is preserved for future generations,” according to the festival’s website.

BYU Chinese major Daniel Anderson attended this year’s Utah Pasifika Festival.

“I came to the festival to experience a different culture,” Anderson said. “I love that Provo is a hub for different cultures.”

The Utah County Pacific Islander Health Coalition teamed up with the festival committee to educate people about health issues significant to Pacific Islanders. They also provided a health booth with information about how Pacific Islanders should better take care of themselves and prevent chronic illness in their communities.

“Each year we focus the event on a health issue Polynesians face,” said Hine Toelupe, the festival’s vendor coordinator. “This year is diabetes.”

Dani Jardine
Dancers from the Halau ‘O Ka’ipolani studio perform at the Utah Pasifika Festival in Provo, May 27, 2017. (Dani Jardine)

Ka’ ipo Rokobuludrau teaches the dances of all Polynesian islands at her Lehi studio Halau ‘O Ka’ipolani — which means “sweetheart of heaven” — and has brought her dancers to the festival each year.

The dancers wore traditional skirts and flowers in their hair as they performed the stories of the Pacific Islands on stage at the festival.

Toelupe said the festival grows every year with more performances and larger crowds.

“We might have outgrown our venue,” Toelupe said.

Dancers from the Halau ‘O Ka’ipolani Studio perform at the Utah Pasifika Event in Provo, May 27, 2017. (Dani Jardine)


Dani Jardine
Spectators browse through booths and shops at the Utah Pasifika Event in Provo, May 27, 2017. (Dani Jardine)
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