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

Firecrackers and lion dancing to usher next Chinese New Year

The Auckland Lantern Festival when it was at Albert Park, Auckland City. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Auckland Lantern Festival when it was at Albert Park, Auckland City. Photo / Dean Purcell

Firecrackers and lion dancing in Aotea Square and suburban centres may usher the next Chinese New Year in 2017.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development chief executive Brett O'Riley told the Herald his team will be exploring having Chinese New Year events to farewell the Year of the Monkey and welcome the Rooster next year.

Celebrations could include firecrackers being lit in the CBD and simultaneously in centres such as Albany, Howick and Manukau, and also a Lunar New Year parade in the lead up to future Auckland Lantern Festivals.

Ateed head of major events Charmaine Ngarimu said the team was currently focussed on the delivery of the 2016 Lantern Festival, which will officially open tonight at 6.30pm at its new Auckland Domain location.

"Ateed, our event partner Asia New Zealand Foundation and family of sponsors will consider a number of great ideas and exciting elements to welcome the Year of the Rooster in 2017, including working with Chinese businesses in Auckland communities," she said.

"This could include activations in suburban areas."

She said planning for next year's event will get underway at the conclusion of this year's lantern festival.

The festival will officially mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in the city.

"This year's elements include a Year of the Monkey lantern which only arrived from China on Wednesday, and a new collaboration with the Parnell Business Association," Ms Ngarimu said.

"The opening ceremony tonight will again follow tradition of lighting firecrackers and lion dance."

Dr Henry Chung, Massey University China specialist said it was "great news" that Ateed was considering events for Chinese New Year Day.

Until now, SkyCity had become the focal point because it was the only place that had public celebrations on Chinese New Year's Eve and Day.

Dr Chung said this was an opportunity for Ateed to promote Auckland as an alternative destination for overseas Chinese to celebrate Chinese New Year.

"This would be a big hit among the Chinese living in the northern hemisphere," he said.

About 400 people, including many tourists, attended the firecrackers and lion dance ceremony on Chinese New Year's Day at the SkyCity Plaza this year.

"SkyCity has been celebrating Chinese New Year for more than a decade and it's wonderful that our events and those across Auckland grow in size and popularity each year," said gneral manager John Mortensen.

"We are always looking for new ways to excite the public with our entertainment while also contributing to Auckland's wider events and celebrations."

The Auckland Lantern Festival will run until Sunday, closing with a grand fireworks finale at 10.15pm.

- NZ Herald

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