Torres Strait delegations attend their first Melanesian Festival of the Arts

Mayor of the Torres Strait Regional Council posing for photo with a group of people.
Mayor of the Torres Strait Regional Council, Fred Gela and Dezine member. Credit: Public Diplomacy & Media Unit/Australian High Commission.

With the support of DFAT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program, the Australian High Commission in Honiara arranged for a Torres Strait Islander delegation to attend the 6th Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival (MACFest) . Led by the Mayor of the Torres Strait Regional Council, Mr Fred Gela, the visit focused on fostering youth and contemporary music partnerships between Australia's Torres Strait Islands and the Solomon Islands.

The Melanesia Arts and Culture Festival (MACFest) is held every four years, and is hosted by a member-nation of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). This year's Festival, which was on 1‒10 July 2018, coincided with Solomon Islands' fortieth anniversary of Independence.

More than 1500 delegates from the region, including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, converged on Honiara this month to celebrate Melanesia's rich culture and heritage through music, dance, art and dialogue.

Photo of three people around a small table conducting an interview with a tape recorder.
Public Diplomacy Officer May Kenilorea-Samasoni interviews Fred Gela (Far right) and Dezine group member Sean Rii. Credit: Public Diplomacy & Media Unit/Australian High Commission.

Post maximised PD opportunities with extensive radio and social coverage, using the visit to highlight the cultural, musical and linguistic ties between Australia's Torres Strait Islands and the Solomon Islands. The collaboration with popular local band DEZINE was key to the high profile visit, including the participation of the four young band members in a three-day music workshop for youths aged 16‒25 at the Australian High Commission chancery with the Torres Strait delegation.

One of the many positive outcomes of the collaboration was a planned tour of Queensland, New Zealand and Fiji by DEZINE in August, organised by Mayor Gela. During their visit they performed songs in languages of both countries.

Vanuatu will host the next Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival in 2022.

Photo of HE High Commissioner and Mayor of the Torres Strait Regional Council shaking hands.
HE High Commissioner Mr Roderick Brazier met with Mayor of the Torres Strait Regional Council, Fred Gela. Credit: Public Diplomacy & Media Unit/Australian High Commission.


Last Updated: 1 November 2018