ASB Polyfest has officially been cancelled

Publish Date
Monday, 16 March 2020, 3:17PM

The 2020 ASB Polyfest has been cancelled following meetings between the Polyfest Trust and the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

The announcement from the Prime Minister on Saturday regarding Covid-19 stated that – “in order to limit the risk of community outbreak when people are in close proximity to each other we will  also be announcing further guidelines on mass gatherings. Advice and criteria on mass gatherings will be released next week. For those who need more immediate advice, they should contact their public health unit.”

As requested in the Prime Minister’s announcement, The Polyfest Trust, who are responsible for the ASB Polyfest, held a meeting with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, and representatives from the Auckland DHB, Counties-Manukau DHB, and the Ministry of Education.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service said in the meeting that – “the wisest choice would be to cancel Polyfest. While we await the details of the government’s policy on mass gatherings, the following advice stands from a public health risk assessment perspective.”

“We understand that 110,000 people usually attend from around NZ. This is a large gathering, with close personal contact (due to the size of the crowd and the activities that occur at Polyfest). Even though people attending Polyfest buy a ticket we would see that this is like a non-ticketed event in that from a public health perspective we would be unable to identify who was in a certain location at a particular time. This would mean if there was a confirmed person who had COVID who had attended Polyfest it would not be possible to contact trace people who were near the case at Polyfest.”

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service added that – “Aotearoa NZ is currently in a ‘stamp it out’ phase of COVID-19, where intensive activity is undertaken to avoid any potential for community transmission of the virus. From an Auckland community perspective, ARPHS is concerned to avoid COVID-19 taking a ‘hold’ in the Auckland population and across the country, and we have a large and widely dispersed Pacific population in Auckland. The Government is also concerned with keeping COVID-19 out of the Pacific Islands, and we know that many Auckland families have frequent contact with visitors and family from the Pacific, or travel to and from the Pacific.

For these reasons, whilst we recognise the significant impact and disruption with a late-notice cancellation, we think this decision would be best in the public health interest.”

The Counties Manukau DHB endorsed the statement from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, as the local public health provider of healthcare services for the Counties Manukau District. They are working together regionally on the COVID19 response and are in agreement with the recommendations made to The Polyfest Trust.

Following the meetings, Greg Pierce from the Polyfest Trust said – “we have been following the guidelines from the Ministry of Health for the past few weeks, and following meetings with Auckland Regional Public Health Service, the final advice was to cancel the 2020 ASB Polyfest”

Pierce said – “we are mindful of the disappointment of school groups who did not get to perform at the 2020 ASB Polyfest, but the health of all students and stakeholders is paramount”

“We are currently looking at alternative options for assessing students performances, and will communicate this with schools once a decision has been reached.”

ASB head of community and sponsorship Mark Graham says, as naming sponsor of the event, ASB fully supports the decision.

“We have proudly sponsored ASB Polyfest for 35 years, and have a lot of respect for how hard the students and their families, teachers, stage co-ordinators and event crew will have worked in preparation for this year’s event, however in light of the advice provided, we fully support the Polyfest Trust Board’s decision to cancel the event.”

With regard to NCEA credits which students could have earned at the 2020 ASB Polyfest, NZQA has information and support available for schools who may need guidance regarding the collection of relevant assessment evidence and providing students with other assessment opportunities, following the cancellation of the 2020 Pasifika Festival and ASB Polyfest.

Schools can contact the NZQA Call Centre on 0800 697 296 if they need any further information.