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    New Year may be done and dusted for many Kiwis, but for Chinese New Zealanders like Tiffany Shan, it is still a week to go before they celebrate New Year.

New Year may be done and dusted for many Kiwis, but for Chinese New Zealanders like Tiffany Shan, it is still a week to go before they celebrate New Year.

According to the Chinese lunar calendar, Chinese New Year will this year fall on January 28 - when the year of the monkey switches to the rooster.

It is a time for reunion, where elaborate and lavish meals are eaten and when the entire holiday is laden with symbolism.


Shan, 32, an Auckland mother-of-two, says it is going to be a very special new year for Chinese here.

"It falls on the same weekend as Auckland anniversary, so it means we will be getting a long weekend to celebrate Chinese New Year," Shan said.

It will also be extra special for the family because her parents are visiting from China, and a three-generational reunion dinner is being planned for New Year's Eve.

"For the first time in a very long time, it will feel like a real reunion dinner for us," she said.

In China, the eve is seen as an important date, with families gathering for a reunion dinner, or nian ye fan, where dishes with auspicious meanings are served.

Fish is favoured because the Chinese word sounds like "surplus of wealth", prawns because it has a similar pronunciation to "laughter" and noodles connote longevity because they are long.

Like Shan, the hot pot is a favourite option for many New Zealand Chinese families for their reunion dinner.

Consisting of a simmering pot of broth at the centre, these "lucky ingredients" are added into the pot and are cooked at the table.

"It is the easiest way to cook a New Years feast with all the symbolic food," she said.

Also, almost certainly with hot pot dining there will be leftovers - which is a positive sign in the context of Chinese New Year. It signifies surplus or abundance of prosperity in the coming year.

Hot pot is a tradition dating back more than 2000 years, a Chinese rendition of fondue where ingredients are cooked inside a simmering pot.

Shan and her husband Louis Zhang, 28, this month opened a hot pot restaurant - Little Sheep - in Oteha Valley.

"It's very timely, because this is probably where we will have our reunion dinner," she said.

Auckland's annual public Chinese New Year festivities, which have grown bigger every year, kick off tomorrow.

Bill English will be opening the Chinese New Year Festival at ASB Showgrounds and officiating the "eye dotting ceremony" for the first time as Prime Minister.

The event will also be a first for Judith Collins since becoming Minister for Ethnic Communities, again following last month's cabinet reshuffle.

"I am very pleased to be taking up the portfolio of ethnic communities again, and Chinese New Year is an auspicious time to start," Collins said.

"I see Chinese New Year as a time to reflect on the previous year and put our best foot forward in the next, as well as to celebrate with our families and communities."

The minister said Chinese New Year had now become a major cultural festival in New Zealand.

"Chinese people have been part of New Zealand since the 1850s and are one of New Zealand's largest ethnic communities," she said.

"The range of ethnicities and cultures in our population continue to grow - enriching us culturally, socially and economically."

Event organiser and Chinese community leader Kai Luey said about he was expecting a crowd of about 30,000.

A group from Liaoning, China, was brought in especially to perform at the event, which would also include acrobats, a face changer and cultural performers.

Another annual event, Lunarfest 2017, will be taking place at the Vodafone Event Centre from tomorrow afternoon, culminating with a fireworks display when darkness falls.

This is the year of the fire rooster - lucky numbers will be 5, 7 and 8 and auspicious colours are gold, brown and yellow.