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

Chinese New Year Q&A with Jessica Phuang

Jessica Phuang Auckland Police Asian liaison officer.

What is your Chinese New Year wish?

For all the ethnic people to live happily in New Zealand. We've migrated to a very beautiful country and sometimes all it takes is to adapt to the New Zealand way of life so that issues such as crime and victimisation can be avoided. I wish all who celebrate the lunar new year a very prosperous and safe Year of the Monkey.

What does Chinese New Year mean to you?

It's an opportunity to reflect on the previous year and make resolutions for the new one. I do that at the end of every calendar year, then I redetermine at Chinese New Year.

What are your goals for the Year of the Monkey?

To work with ethnic communities on projects and to share some of the great crime prevention work we do within the police.

What's the most interesting thing about you and your culture?

My grandmother used to remind me that being Chinese, we have to practise good morals and "never forget the source of water that you drink from". That's why I always remember to be grateful, particularly to the people who have helped me before, especially in my difficult times.

How did you celebrate the festival as a child, and what's your most memorable Chinese New Year?

I always looked forward to the reunion dinner when every family member will return home. Our family is very small, only four of us, so mum would invite people who didn't have families. Sometimes we could have up to 20 people in the house. They often performed after dinner and made the festival very lively.

What traditions do you still keep, and how do you celebrate Chinese New Year today?

I still have the Chinese New Year's Eve dinner. Each dish will represent some good omen, such as prawns - in Chinese it is called Ha, so meaning hahaha, always laughing throughout the year. We have eight dishes. Eight is prosperity. I decorate my house with lots of red and fresh flowers that represent life.

How will you be celebrating Chinese New Year?

This year I have 12 people who will be celebrating Chinese New Year at my home. Many Chinese communities have also invited me to their community celebrations.

What animal zodiac sign were you born under, and do you think there are similarities between you and your animal sign?

I am born in the Year of the Sheep. I'm not sure what similarities I have with a sheep, but hey, at least I am happy to be a New Zealand sheep.

- NZ Herald

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