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Asian-Pacific American Heritage Celebration: From taiko to ta moko

If the tiki statue holding up the bamboo "Aloha!" sign at the entrance to the Museum of Discovery and Science isn't a dead giveaway, know this: The venue will celebrate the culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands this weekend.

The Fort Lauderdale museum's second annual Asian-Pacific American Heritage Celebration will fete China, Thailand and Japan, as well as the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

"It's important to show families how incredibly diverse the cultures of the world are, down to the ways they practice science and religion," says Jesse Zito, who created the event to honor the heritage month of the same name. "But it's just interesting to see the similarities between Western culture and the Pacific Islands."

The celebration will feature a Samoan fire-knife dance, a New Zealand ta moko activity (a warrior face-paint), surfboard lessons with Kali "da Big Kahuna" Montero and a tasting of poi, a nutritious Hawaiian dish made from pounded taro root. Zito says a highlight of the event will be a taiko drumming performance and the appearance of a 40-foot-long outrigger canoe, used by Pacific Islanders as a primary means of travel between islands.

"There's a feel of drums and music. It's electric, filled with the sounds of culture," Zito says. "This is still new for the museum, and we expect to double the number of countries next year."

The Asian-Pacific American Heritage Celebration returns noon-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Museum of Discovery and Science, 401 SW Second St., in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $12-$14. Call 954-467-6637 or go to

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