Tue, Mar 12, 2024 4:00 PM

Festival celebrates region’s cultural delights


William Woodworth

Blenheim’s Pollard Park was filled with colourful performances, and cross-cultural collaborations as the 2024 Marlborough Multicultural Festival got underway.

Celebrating Marlborough’s many different cultures, the festival proved a big hit with more than 200 performers sharing their talents with delighted audiences.

And organisers, stall holders and attendees have said this year’s festival is easily the largest and most diverse annual celebration yet.

In between helping backstage and performing on the well-attended main stage, Marlborough Multicultural Centre’s Marcelo Gonzalez said the day was “fabulous.”

“It’s been a fantastic day celebrating our differences and coming together to learn about each other.”

A Scottish, Irish and Papua New Guinean alliance formed.

Dancers, singers and performers from the region and further afield wowed the large, supportive and vocal audience throughout the day.

A major highlight for all was the Multicultural Parade.  It began as an impromptu Latin dance party, alongside the Chinese Association’s dragon dancers backed by a mix of the South American band and Marlborough’s Pipe Band in a tangible show of cross-cultural celebration.

Marlburians from China, Scotland, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Fiji, Vanuatu - as well as Marlborough for Ceasefire under the Palestinian flag joined in.

Visitors could learn about Chinese calligraphy, traditional Chilean arts and crafts, Ukrainian hair braids, or taste-test a range of tasty treats – with Envirohub Marlborough on hand with reusable cutlery.

The South American dance troupe whirled across the stage backed by their groovy band.

Dr Shilinka Smith and Becky Chin, guest speakers at Friday morning’s Zonta Club of Marlborough for International Women’s Day on promoting diversity and belonging in communities, were thrilled to see what they said were crucial things that create positive connections within communities happening throughout the day.

“It’s the little moments where you see that spark of understanding between people who may be strangers but want, and generally always do, find something in common I think I and many others really value”, says Becky.

“We should want to immerse ourselves in each other’s cultures and give people the opportunity to share the variety that makes us human”.

Margaret Western, Becky Chin and Dr Shilinka Smith.
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