The Rotorua Library was full of colour, music, culture and bustle as people enjoyed coming together to celebrate Tanabata.

Tanabata - meaning evening of the seventh - is a Japanese star festival derived from the Chinese star festival Qi Xi (The Night of the Sevens).

It celebrates the meeting of Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair).

The Milky Way, a river-like expanse stars that spans the night sky, separates these lovers and they are allowed to meet only once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.

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Co-organiser Hiroe Howell says for the last 11 years they have held the Tanabata Japanese Star Festival at The Arts Village with Creative Communities Scheme funding support.

She says they started the planning of this year's event in March, but dropped application and cancelled the venue booking due to Covid-19.

"In that time we couldn't see the possibility of holding the event, because even though we could go back to normal life before July [Tanabata event season], we had no chance to start the event preparations in lockdown."

She says she and her husband Paul both work in tourism, and their small B&B's guests are mostly from Japan and other overseas countries.

"Our life became in a serious situation as for many Rotorua people who lost income.

A crowd of people enjoying the Tanabata celebrations. Photo / Supplied
A crowd of people enjoying the Tanabata celebrations. Photo / Supplied

"There were many reasons for giving up the event, however I couldn't totally give up because Tanabata is the Rotorua Japanese community's precious event to share our traditional culture with young generations and locals."

Hiroe says that especially after lockdown, she thought the community needed a cheerful, happy family event.

She says after the return to alert level 1, she approached the Rotorua Multicultural Council to see if they were interested to help with Tanabata.

"By combining with a Multicultural Ethnic Shared Lunch event, we could have this colourful winter event again, and we got full support from Rotorua Multicultural Council."

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Rotorua Multicultural Council president Margriet Theron said in her speech for the Tanabata opening that it was the first Rotorua multicultural event after the lockdown.

"With the kind help from Rotorua Multicultural Council and Rotorua Library, we were able to showcase this part of Japanese culture to Rotorua locals.

"The event included an origami and paper star decoration workshop, storytelling and slideshow, star quiz, Japanese flute performance and a Japanese shared lunch."

A shared lunch being savoured by those who attended. Photo / Supplied
A shared lunch being savoured by those who attended. Photo / Supplied

Hiroe says the attendance was great, with people from many different cultures participating, and the workshop and performances were well received.

"The shared lunch of mainly Japanese food was enjoyed by many people.

"We'd like to say a big thanks to Rotorua Multicultural Council, Rotorua Library, Rotorua Japanese Community and many people who joined us."

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She also thanks The Arts Village and Creative Communities Scheme.

"Even though we couldn't work together this year, we could have our last 11 years of this event with their support."

A paper star decoration workshop was part of the Tanabata celebration. Photo / Supplied
A paper star decoration workshop was part of the Tanabata celebration. Photo / Supplied