Organisers of Japan Day say the event will go ahead as planned this Sunday, despite growing concerns over the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The decision comes after Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) announced the cancellation of the Auckland Lantern Festival yesterday.

Japan Day attracted about 20,000 last year and is the largest festival celebrating the Japanese culture in New Zealand.

"We are aware that some community events have been cancelled due to the fear of the spread of the virus," said Anri Go, organiser and chairwoman of the Japanese Society of Auckland.


"The society has fully assessed the situation, referring to Auckland Council's position towards community events, and wish to announce the Japan Day will be held as scheduled at ASB Showgrounds."

Kimono trials is one of the highlights at Japan Day. Photo / File.
Kimono trials is one of the highlights at Japan Day. Photo / File.

A number of other community events had been cancelled or postponed due to health concerns - including the Whau Chinese New Year Festival and the Northcote Chinese and Korean New Year event last weekend.

"We sincerely hope that the epidemic of coronavirus will be controlled and those who are affected will recover and get back to their normal life soon," Go said.

Auckland Howick Ward councillor Paul Young, who supported the cancellation of the lantern festival, said he respected the organisers' decision but personally did not think it was a good idea.

Young, who also sits on the Counties Manukau District Health Board, believes "it's not a matter of if, but when" New Zealand gets its first case of coronavirus.

"People don't get symptoms for a couple of weeks, so we really don't know if there are any infected people already here so we should not be taking any unnecessary risks," he said.

"I will attend Japan Day because I have promised the organisers I would, but I won't stay too long. I don't think it is a good idea for large events to be organised at least until we know the virus is under control."

Go said the organisers will continue to closely monitor the situation, and will be requesting all participants and visitors to take extra precautions.


"Should the risks increase and the authorities advise to limit events or gathering, we will reassess the situation and may reverse the current decision," she said.

"We will endeavour to take necessary measures to encourage hand washing and other precautionary measures at the event."

Japan Day, which first started in 2001, will be held on Sunday from 10am to 6pm at the ASB Showgrounds.

The free event this year will feature cultural exhibitions and workshops, including ikebana flower arrangement, tea ceremonies, kimono trials and calligraphy.

There will also be food stalls offering Japanese favourites and cultural performances that include Taiko drumming, martial arts and artistes from Japan.