It's the biggest celebration in the world. Zhong guo xin nian (中国新年) or Chinese New Year.

New-year celebrations to welcome in the Year of the Pig start today and will last two weeks.

The festival is responsible for the world's largest annual human migration, with three billion trips made home to China.

Ling Li Zhou of Tauranga said people working in another country would "ask for leave and quickly go home, spending the whole amount of Chinese New Year with family".


The Zhou family moved to Tauranga from the city of Chongqing, population 30 million, a year ago.

Ling Li and husband Fan moved to New Zealand to give their children Arya and Michael a better education, but they were also determined to keep their Chinese culture alive.

"I'm really proud of the Chinese culture and I want people to accept it. Everything is New Zealand or the Kiwi way but I want to keep our traditions," Ling Li said.

Traditions included making dumplings together, a staple Chinese food with thousands of years of history.

"I have memories of family members sitting together and making dumplings. We are talking, telling jokes. Sometimes we are eating snacks, just very excited.

"These rice balls also symbolise union and family members staying together. Red beans symbolise missing each other. In China every time you look at red bean you think of your family," Ling Li said.

But the best part of Chinese New Year for the kids is red pockets, or 红包 (hóng bāo), small red envelopes filled with lucky money.

"In China, there is a lot of fireworks. A lot of beautiful food. And red pockets. During two weeks we will visit our friends and relatives. Whoever you go and visit they will give you a red pocket.


"But here in New Zealand, they will have to Facetime with their grandparents who are still in China."

In a modern twist, the lucky money is transferred through the Wechat app.

The Chinese population in New Zealand is growing.

In 2013, more than 171,000 Chinese were living in New Zealand and by 2038 the Asian population is predicted to outgrow Māori.

In Tauranga, Chinese make up just 5.6 per cent of the population.

Despite the relatively small numbers, Ling Li and Fan hope the Kiwis in their community will embrace Chinese New Year.

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