FestPAC: ‘The largest family reunion in the world’ ends with a festive closing ceremony

After ten days of culture, tradition and kinship, the “world’s largest family reunion” and celebration of indigenous Pacific culture has come to a close, with a poignant yet subdued closing ceremony in Hawaii.

Chairman Kalani Ka’ana’ana welcomed FestPAC delegates to the Honolulu Convention Center for the final time, saying he was “filled with gratitude” for the “spirit that each of you brought to the festival.” He also reminded attendees of the crucial role they can play in preserving Pacific culture and traditions.

“Let us not be the generation that is so impressed by our predecessors that we fail to add to the greatness of our lineage,” he said, borrowing from sentiments shared at a previous FestPAC.

“How do we make sure we keep the momentum that we felt here, the unity we felt here, the aloha we felt here?

“We laughed, we cried, we danced, we sat, we did pretty much everything. We lived.”

Delegates from American Samoa enjoy the closing ceremony of FestPAC 14.
Delegates from American Samoa enjoy the closing ceremony.()

Hawaii Governor Josh Green took the stage to recognize the great spirit that permeated the festival and to thank everyone who made the trip.

“We recognize that there are differences, we recognize that there are challenges between countries, but by coming together as one Pacific… we want you to know forever that our home is your home… and we will continue to help you continue to welcome love,” he said.

The island delegations were then called and as each nation was named, the delegates jumped to their feet, dancing, singing and cheering.

Delegation from the Cook Islands at the closing ceremony of FestPAC
Delegates from the Cook Islands enjoy the closing ceremony.()

Festival director Aaron J Sala told the crowd that before the festival started, between 60,000 and 100,000 people were expected to be involved in the event over the course of the ten days.

“On day two of the festival, in the convention center alone, more than 100,000 people were involved in the festival,” he said.

“My wife and I believe that Hawaii is the key to world peace… because the color in this room is found nowhere else in the world.

“Ever since Maui brought us from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, there has always been a place where we celebrate color consciousness, rather than feign color blindness.”

Delegates from Aotearoa enjoy the closing ceremony of FestPAC 14.
Delegates from Aotearoa enjoy the closing ceremony.()

He further said that over the ten days, more than 3,000 individuals from 25 countries participated.

“Because, in the Pacific way, we limited the delegations to a hundred. No one followed that rule,” he said to laughter and cheers from the crowd.

“How wonderful it is to be in the fold of our great ocean, in a time that God has given us, to celebrate each other, with each other.”

Delegates and flag bearers gather on the floor during FestPAC's closing ceremony.
Delegates and flag bearers gather on the floor during FestPAC’s closing ceremony.()

Council of Pacific Arts and Culture President Emille Kairua invited all attendees and all Pacifika people around the world to plan their trip for FestPAC 14, to be held in New Caledonia in 2028.

“We will return to our home islands to replenish, reload and return to FestPAC 14,” he said. “Let’s all make the next family reunion in 2028 the biggest and the best.”

With that, a number of musical acts took to the stage, playing traditional songs as delegates stormed the main floor to dance and sing the night away.