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

Auckland's Chinese New Year celebrations could extend

Chinese New Year celebrations at Sky City. Photo / Chris Loufte
Chinese New Year celebrations at Sky City. Photo / Chris Loufte

Future Chinese New Year celebrations may include dragon parades on Queen St and firecrackers in Aotea Square, and could go on for two weeks.

The Herald can report the Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development unit is in discussions with the Asia New Zealand Foundation to extend Chinese New Year celebrations in the city.

Ateed external relations general manager Steve Armitage said the organisation was working with local business associations and local boards to bring the celebration closer to communities across the region.

"Yes, extended Chinese New Year celebrations are something we have discussed in principle with Asia New Zealand," Mr Armitage said.

"It is an idea worth exploring in conjunction with all other Chinese New Year activities going on in Auckland."

Mr Armitage said Ateed had this year worked alongside Parnell Village, providing support and advise, on their Year of the Monkey celebration and exhibition.

"With this type of collaboration, it is possible that an Auckland-wide celebration of Chinese New Year will develop over time, with the Auckland Lantern Festival being the grand finale."

Foundation culture director Jennifer King said she'd like to see Auckland have a community event on Chinese New Year's Day, and a Queen Street dragon parade.

"Having a parade on Chinese New Year day itself, maybe that's something the city can look at in the future," Ms King said.

"I'd really like to see a parade with dragons, lantern floats and things."

Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from the eve of the turn of the lunisolar calendar and end with the lantern festival on the 15th day.

"In Auckland there are lots of possibilities," said Ms King, an organiser of the lantern festival since it started in 2000.

Festivities in Auckland usually start two weeks before Chinese New Year, with community organised market days about events at ASB Showgrounds and the Vodafone Events Centre.

But unlike other cities with large Chinese populations such as Toronto, New York or Manchester, Auckland did not have Chinese New Year parades or a community New Year's Day event.

For many, SkyCity had become the focal point because it was the only place that had firecrackers and lion dance performances on Chinese New Year's eve and day.

The Auckland Lantern Festival will run from February 18 to February 21 at the Domain.

Dr Henry Chung, a Massey University China specialist, an associate professor at the university's School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, said having events throughout the 15-day new year period would also have massive tourism potential.

"Chinese New Year holidays is the most popular time for Chinese to travel, but many also do not want to miss celebrating the festival," Dr Chung said.

"Auckland can be developed into a destination where ethnic Chinese tourists could celebrate the festival away from home."

- NZ Herald

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