Chinese New Year falls on February 8, when the Sheep makes way for the Year of the Monkey. The Herald asked five prominent Chinese New Zealanders for their New Year wishes, and the traditions they keep. And you can learn a new Chinese phrase with our Mandarin phrase of the day, which will run each day until Friday.

Four years after their wedding, Auckland Chinese couple Jeremy Bai and Summer Wang feel it's time to have a baby.

At Chinese New Year on February 8 the Chinese zodiac will change from sheep to monkey, considered to be an auspicious year for babies.

"Monkey babies are smart, charming and capable, all the qualities that we want our baby to have," Mrs Bai, 27, said.

The Year of the Monkey is predicted to set off a baby boom in China, where superstition persists.


But it could also mean a baby boom in New Zealand.

Mrs Bai, a Chinese television news presenter, is part of a local Chinese social media chat group of more than 100 pregnant Chinese mothers expecting "monkey babies".

"We feel having a baby under the sheep sign is not very good, that's why we waited until the monkey year," said Mrs Bai, who is due to give birth in April.

"My parents consulted fortune tellers who said a monkey will also be a good fit to our family, because I am a dragon and my husband is a rat."

Every Chinese person has a sheng xiao, one of 12 animals - rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig - to symbolise the year they were born.

The luckiest years, according to the Chinese zodiac, are the dragon and horse.

Mr Bai, 31, a construction project manager, said they began planning to have their baby this year after they did not have one in the last dragon year, which was 2012.

"It would have been grand to have a dragon baby, but we were just not ready then."

Massey University China expert Henry Chung said the monkey year was a better year when compared with the sheep or rooster.

For those planning to have children, it is better to have them this year ... it is still not to late to start the plan.


Most Chinese believe the year of birth plays a key role in determining not just a person's traits, character and attributes, but also the happiness and success they experience.

Babies born in the Year of the Sheep, a placid and cowardly sign, are traditionally thought to have bad pros-pects.

The following year, the Year of the Rooster, is also believed to be less auspicious and blessed than the monkey.

Sandwiched between two not so lucky years makes the monkey year a popular time to aim for parenthood.

Macaulay Culkin, Jennifer Aniston, Lucy Liu and Chinese basketball star Yao Ming are among the famous names born under the monkey sign.

Monkeys are often described as the "erratic geniuses" of the zodiac cycle, and are thought to be intelligent, witty, gregarious and versatile.

"Monkeys are full of energy, active and progressive, and as traditionally believed, will perform better than the sheep or chicken," Dr Chung said.

"For those planning to have children, it is better to have them this year ... it is still not to late to start the plan."

Year of Monkey

• Monkey years - 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

• Personality: Intelligent, witty, gregarious and versatile

• Ideal career: Writer, entertainer, counsellor, film director and sales

• Love match: Rat and Dragon

• Famous monkeys: Lucy Liu, Will Smith, Ashley Judd, Tom Hanks, Celine Dion