Organised by the Christchurch City Council as part of its Summer Times programme, and ably supported by Plains FM - Canterbury’s only community access radio station, and Fendalton-Waimairi and Riccarton-Wigram Community Boards, the 2016 Culture Galore [an annual free outdoor multicultural festival] held on March 12 at the Ray Blank Park in Ilam, was a feast for all the senses.
Featuring music, dance, food and arts and crafts from more than 80 cultures from around the world, the event kicked off with Kapa Haka performed by the Hornby High School. Later, Mundi African dance, Indian Bharatanatyam dance, Chinese Lion dance, Scottish Country dance, and Japanese Takumi drumming mesmerised the audience.
For those wishing to try their hands at various art-forms, parallel workshops were organised including by the Chinese Square Dancing group of the Christchurch Migrant Centre, Indang Dance by the Canterbury Indonesia Society, and Wushu martial arts by Master Song Shaolin. Nor'West Arch Morris Dancers and the Macedonian Cultural Group participated as well.
But the most popular section of the Galore was the multi-national cuisine on offer.
Igor and his wife, who immigrated to New Zealand six years back from Ukraine, had a stall serving Russian home-baked products. Scott, originally from the US and in Christchurch since 2008, was selling Thai ice-cream. Sitti from Singapore was selling the Lion-City's delicacies in celebrations of her country's 50 years of independence from Malaysia. Emily from Germany, with help from her Kiwi partner Jonathan, had set-up their Little German Kitchen. “Our local speciality Hammkuchen has proved to be a great hit with the crowds here,” she said.
Bangladesh was also represented by the Bangladesh Club of Christchurch, which had set-up a stall selling various Bengali dishes. “We have been participating in the Culture Galore since the last 15 years and it's always a wonderful experience. Where else can we find Russian, Serbian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Venezuelan and African food under one roof,” noted the President of the Club, Mesbahuddin Chowdhury, also a lecturer at the University of Canterbury.
Team from Plains FM which was emceed the event summed up the afternoon rather nicely. “Today is the day to learn a new language, make a new friend or try a new cuisine. That's what Christchurch's Culture Galore is all about.”