Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival kicks off in Vanuatu tomorrow

Ni-Vanuatu cultural dancers from Pentecost welcome a 130-strong Kanak delegation from New Caledonia to their accommodation at Lycee Louis Antoine De Bougainville. Port Vila July 2023 Photo: RNZ Pacific/Hilaire Bule

The 2023 Melanesia Arts and Culture Festival (MACFEST) kicks off in Port Vila on Wednesday with the theme of ‘rebuilding our Melanesia for our future’.

The event is hosted by the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) which includes Fiji, New Caledonia’s FLNKS, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Only the Papua New Guinea delegation is yet to arrive into Vanuatu to join cultural contingents from Fiji, FLNKS and Solomon Islands, which were welcomed by the hosts on Sunday and Monday.

The chairman of the festival organising committee Richard Ching urged local residents to show visitors plenty of Vanuatu’s trademark hospitality.

“As hosts of the MACFEST event we would like the people of Vanuatu to show Vanuatu’s hospitality,” Ching said.

“My message is that people respect our visitors, help them and make sure their stay over here is very successful for a good and successful event.”

Cultural delegations from across Vanuatu itself are also travelling to the main island of Efate for the event, which runs until the end of the month.

Vanuatu chief Reuben Naram, who is the head of the contingent representing Aneityum, will be playing an important role with performers during the festival’s opening ceremony.

Naram told RNZ Pacific that Aneityum was the country’s southern-most island in Vanuatu but was the first to arrive into Port Vila due to the difficulties with transportation elsewhere.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, the MSG foreign ministers endorsed the MSG director general’s 2022 Progress Report, the MSG Secretariat’s 2020 and 2021 Annual Reports and the accompanying Audited Financial Statements, which could not be tabled last year.

“MSG foreign ministers, in approving the Calendar of Events, directed the Secretariat to establish a committee to identify the inadequacies in processes and the apparent appearance of a decline in interest and commitment towards MSG matters by members and propose options that would better improve coordination and means of communication between members and the Secretariat,” the MGS said via a statement.