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HomeEventsFestive fun at a Filipino ‘karnabal’ with dance, theatre, games, street food.

Festive fun at a Filipino ‘karnabal’ with dance, theatre, games, street food.

(above:) The ‘Binanog Banog Dance’ by the talented Ritmo Pilipino group. The dancer is Joan Percy. photo / Ritmo Pilipino.

By Ricky Matthew

CHRISTCHURCH – In the heart of Christchurch a celebration of Philippine culture takes place every year. The brainchild of Delia Richards, Philippines Day has become a cornerstone of cultural exchange, fostering connections between the Filipino community and the rest of the diverse population of Christchurch.

Delia Richards. photo:

Delia is the founder of Philippine Culture and Migrant Services, has been involved in the Filipino community for decades and continues to promote Philippine culture to Filipino youth and the wider community.

“The organisation was set up in 1996 and this Philippines Day event was initiated in the early 20s,” says Delia. “We are a non-profit organisation with volunteers, so we are trying our best with what we have.”

Over the years the festival has grown into a massive celebration, drawing attendees from all corners of Christchurch. The event’s long history gives it a sense of richness, however, this blessing can also be a curse.

“Every year is a challenge for us. We always have to think of something new. We can’t just repeat what we did last year and every year before,” Delia explains.

To solve this problem Delia Richards comes up with a different theme every year. This year the theme is ‘Karnabal sa Christchurch.’

The Philippines Day event features dance performances, theatre and of course hearty Filipino food. But the importance of the event goes beyond the entertainment.

“This event is informative and educational. Via the event we can teach our kids our history and traditions so they are passed on to the next generation.

“For the adults this year was about reminding us how we enjoyed the carnival back in the Philippines. This was a chance for Filipinos to come together as one. Although we are in Christchurch now, we can still retain our cultural identity through these events.

“And was not something that was going to be strange for non-Filipinos, because it was essentially a fun event. They saw some of the games that remind us Filipinos of home. Also, as we are in our integration phase, we incorporated some of the non-Filipino games that are popular in Christchurch and New Zealand.”

The carnival concept addresses the need for interaction in the learning process. Richards aims to educate Filipinos and locals about the culture through this unique approach.

“Normally, when you have cultural shows, the usual thing is to sit down and listen to what is happening. That’s been done year in and year out. But this year we wanted everyone to participate and to interact,” Delia explains.

“This year is the first time we were urging people to participate in all the activities and one way to do this was to dress up in your cultural wear,” says Delia.

Usually held at Victoria Square, the event moved to a bigger location due to the growing number of attendees.

The event was held on the Sunday 25th February at Ray Blank Park, Ilam.

“This event is leading up to the 2025 Filipino reunion,” reminded Delia.

Editor: Delia Richards has been nominated for the Filipino News ‘Community Leader of the Year 2024’ award.

(We acknowledge the support of Chris Lynch, Journalist / Video Producer (Chris Lynch Media Limited) in the preparation of this article).

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