Auckland's Pasifika Festival cancelled due to coronavirus fears, impact on communities involved

Auckland's Pasifika Festival has been cancelled to reduce the risk posed by the spread of coronavirus. 

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Mr Goff said the risk of coronavirus spreading to Pacific Islands after the event was too great. Source: 1 NEWS

Auckland Council confirmed this morning that the event had been cancelled after Auckland Mayor Phil Goff met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday, and again this morning.

The advice from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment was to cancel the event.

Mr Goff said "while the latest Ministry of Health advice is that New Zealand does not have a community outbreak of COVID-19 and the risk of a community outbreak remains low, Auckland Council and the Cabinet Committee's specific concerns are about the risk of the virus being transmitted to the Pacific Islands by attendees of the festival."

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The Polynesian dance troupe are performing at the Pasifika Festival in Auckland this weekend. Source: Breakfast

Mr Goff said last year's measles epidemic spreading to Samoa, which caused 82 deaths, weighed heavily on the decision.

"It is disappointing for all of us as Aucklander, and particularly for our Pacific communities, that the festival will not be going ahead," Mr Goff said.

"However, Aucklanders will understand the council taking commonsense steps to reduce the risk of the virus spreading."

This is the second year in a row that the Pasifika Festival has been cancelled, and Mr Goff said both cancellations had been "for reasons beyond our control.

"Council is continuing to monitor the response to coronavirus and is ready to respond to any advice from health authorities to help them share their information and manage any health needs in the Auckland region," Mr Goff said.

"The future of other public events will be determined on a case-by-case basis, following advice from health authorities and the situation with COVID-19 at the time."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was disappointed, but that the health of New Zealanders and the Pacific community is the top priority.

"We still have no community transmission, but because of new specific advice about the number of people coming into New Zealand for Pacifika who will then return to the Pacific after the event we have decided we need to be extra precautious," Ms Ardern said.

"We have a duty to protect the Pacific from COVID-19, and this decision is all about that.

"We are constantly evaluating the risk situation with COVID-19. In the last 48 hours we have had the first identified case in the Pacific and the global outlook is constantly evolving, so we need to make these decisions based on the most up to date information.

"This is a case of better safe than sorry. I know many in the Pacific community will be disappointed, and I am too. I always look forward to this event - but we have to make sure our communities health and the health of the Pacific is at the forefront of our minds and decisions."