Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Chinese New Year festivities kicking off two weeks early

Manying Ip, here in her Chinese New Year outfit, is looking forward to the festivities. Photo / Nick Reed
Manying Ip, here in her Chinese New Year outfit, is looking forward to the festivities. Photo / Nick Reed

Celebrations for Chinese New Year in Auckland will start two weeks earlier this year to avoid clashes with Waitangi Day weekend and Auckland Anniversary.

Chinese New Year falls on February 8, and will see the Goat giving way to the Year of the Monkey, the ninth animal of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs.

A Mondayised Waitangi Day holiday means the community will be getting a public holiday on Chinese New Year and a long weekend to celebrate what is regarded as their most important festival.

Festivities in Auckland will kick off with a dragon dance at the annual Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day this Saturday - two weeks earlier than normal because the next weekend is Auckland Anniversary, followed by Waitangi Day weekend.

Manying Ip, Professor of Asian Studies at Auckland University, hailed the move.

"It's great to have a long weekend for families to have their all-important reunion dinner on New Year's Eve without having to worry about an early work start the next day, and then a public holiday for customary New Year visits to family and friends," Professor Ip said. "I for one am looking forward to a Chinese New Year visit from my first grandchild and getting together with my students and friends on New Year's Day which is possible only because it's a public holiday."

Chinese New Year is a major holiday in China.

It is also a public holiday in countries with significant Chinese populations.

Kai Luey, chairman of the Auckland Chinese Community Centre, said the preferred date to launch the celebration was next Saturday, but venues had already been booked.

"The event is eagerly anticipated by migrants from China and other parts of Asia because they can again experience the sights, sounds, smells and pageantry of a traditional Chinese New Year celebration," he said.

"Kiwis and NZ-born Chinese also enjoy the event because of the great entertainment."

About 30,000 people are expected to attend the event, which features 200 market stalls selling Chinese food, delicacies, traditional crafts and Chinese New Year foodstuffs and entertainment like lion and dragon dances, cultural performances and a Shaolin kung fu demonstration.

The month-long festivities in Auckland are set to be exciting.

Lunarfest 2016, a World TV organised event, will take place between 3 and 11pm at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, where highlights include performances, talent shows and a fireworks display.

Firecrackers will go off in the CBD on New Year's Eve and Day at SkyCity.

Auckland Domain will host the Auckland Lantern Festival for the first time. The festival, held from February 18 to 21, will end the celebrations with a fireworks display.

- NZ Herald

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