The 13th Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture (FESTPAC) Commission held a preparatory meeting at the Hawaii Commission Center on Aug. 15. Hosted by Hawaii Senator J. Kalani English, who is also president of this year's festival commission, FESTPAC invited a total of five people from Taiwan's National Museum of Prehistory (which is representing the National Taiwan Museum) and the Department of Public Affairs of National Taitung University to participate in the event.
The Taiwan delegates paid a visit to Hawaii and publicized Taiwan's deep cultural roots as part of the Austronesian family. The people they met with included Senator English, chairman of the festival commission, Vicky Holt Takamine, director of this year's festival, and Kalani Ka'anā'anā, festival commission member and the Hawaii Tourism Authority's director of Hawaiian cultural affairs.
FESTPAC 2020 will be hosted by Hawaii in June, with Senator English noting that the festival has created a free space for dancers, weavers, sculptors, shipbuilders, artists, and cultural practitioners from around the world to gather and exchange ideas in addition to practicing and preserving cultures.
FESTPAC Director Takamine explained that the 2020 theme of the festival — "E kū i ka hoe ʻuli" or "Take hold of the steering paddle, and press it against the boat’s side" — originated from an ancient Hawaiian ballad, which describes how Hawaiian people, even when they are faced with external shocks and change, are still able to master their own rudders, driving the direction their lives should go.
To establish a cultural link with the Pacific region, Taiwan has been actively participating in FESTPAC since 2004. Commission member Ka'anā'anā believes that although indigenous peoples in different places share the same philosophy and strive to protect their language and cultural practices, it is extremely important to maintain the links between indigenous people in different regions.
To which Senator English adds: "We are one people." He believes the island nations regard Taiwan as a member of the Pacific family and Taiwan has been widely accepted as an indispensable member of the FESTPAC community.
The National Museum of Prehistory's participation represents the first time Taiwan is taking part in the festival’s preparatory meeting to promote the nation’s Austronesian roots under the banner of "A World of Austronesian Culture in Taiwan." Representing Taiwan on this trip is a delegation led by National Taitung University Professor Futuru Fotol' Tsai (蔡政良) and comprising researchers from the National Museum of Prehistory.
They exchanged experiences with relevant Hawaiian institutions on topics such as community empowerment, cultural practices, and revitalization of heritage. They hope to establish inter-museum links and construct an intercultural platform that would serve as an important reference for the future establishment of the "Austronesian Cultures of the World" exhibition hall in the National Museum of Prehistory.
FESTPAC is hosted every four years by a different nation. More information is available at www.festivalofpacificarts.com.