FestPAC Hawaiʻi 2024 offers a platform to advance the priorities and concerns of the Pacific Islands

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Photo: Stacy Ferreira

Aloha mai kākou,

The 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC) being hosted in Hawai’i June 6-16, symbolizes a significant cultural and geopolitical milestone, especially with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) playing a pivotal leadership role. The festival, known as FestPAC, is set against the backdrop of a critical juncture in Pacific Island affairs, with pressing issues like climate change, Indigenous rights, and sustainable economies at the forefront of regional dialogue.

In late February, a Traditional Leaders Talanoa in Fiji laid the groundwork for a unified Pacific approach to these challenges. This historic meeting, featuring OHA Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey alongside leaders from Samoa, Tonga, Aotearoa (New Zealand), and Fiji, crafted a shared agenda to amplify the Pacific voice for the global stage. Our collaborative efforts are poised to leverage FestPAC Hawaiʻi 2024 as a platform to showcase and advance Pacific Islands’ priorities and concerns.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs stands at the core of this transformative endeavor. As an advocate for Native Hawaiian rights, OHA’s involvement in FestPAC Hawaiʻi 2024 is both a responsibility and an opportunity. By engaging with over 3,000 delegates from more than 20 Pacific Island nations, OHA will share Hawaiʻi’s rich cultural heritage embodied in our loina (customs), ʻōlelo (language), and hoʻokipa (hospitality) — while simultaneously fostering regional solidarity. FestPAC is not merely a cultural exhibition; it is a strategic confluence for discussing and addressing the existential threats facing the Pacific. Climate change, for instance, poses a disproportionate risk to our island nations, making our collective voice crucial in international environmental discourse.

The festival provides a unique venue for our Pacific nations to share our experiences, advocate for meaningful action, and shape global policies. Moreover, FestPAC underscores the importance of Indigenous rights. In a world where such rights are often sidelined, this event offers a stage for Pacific Islanders to assert our identity, share our stories, and advocate for inherent rights and self-determination. The economic aspect is equally significant. Sustainable development is vital for the Pacific’s future, and the festival will catalyze discussions on harnessing traditional knowledge and modern innovation to create resilient economies. This is particularly relevant as the Pacific Islands navigate the complexities of globalization and seek pathways to prosperity that do not compromise our environmental or cultural integrity.

FestPAC Hawaiʻi 2024 represents a watershed moment for Pacific Islands, with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs at the helm in Hawaiʻi. By uniting the region’s nations and peoples, the festival promises to elevate our collective concerns, advocate for Indigenous rights, and influence global policy. It is a historic opportunity to forge an ongoing collaboration and partnership between nations for a brighter, more sustainable future for the Pacific, making the most of this unprecedented gathering to raise our voices and assert our rightful place on the world stage.

Me ka haʻahaʻa,
Stacy Kealohalani Ferreira
Ka Pouhana | Chief Executive Officer