Kai Lim is the owner of Inc Creative, a digital solutions company, and manages and runs Whanganui's annual Lanterns on the Awa event. He answered 10 questions from Emma Bernard.
What is your role with Lanterns on the Awa?
The event is owned by New Zealand China Friendship Society's Whanganui branch. They approached me last year to create, manage and run the event. Last year we were only expecting to have 2000 people max show up to the event but at one point there were 5000 people. So obviously the council and New Zealand China Friendship Society are very happy with what I've done, so we want to keep the momentum going. Originally the event was going to run in May but because of [Covid] red light we pushed it back to September 3.
What can we expect for this year's Lanterns on the Awa?
This year we are still finalising things but we want live dance performances, and also kung fu performances as well. Also a traditional Chinese folk dance performance. I think the highlight will be the live performances. The high schools will be doing music performances too, all surrounding Chinese music or instruments. We would really like to have 5000 people there again, or even aiming at 8000 this year. Last year we only had five retail stalls and three food stalls, and two that sold lanterns. At this stage we have 16 retail stalls confirmed. So the large queues from last year should be sorted.
Why is Lanterns on the Awa important?
This event is supposed to be at the end of Chinese New Year; it's about getting together, whether it's family or friends. Because of Covid we pushed it back and it happens to be September 10 is the mid-autumn festival in China, which has to do with the moon. Of course the moon is a round circle, which means to get together as well. For Chinese New Year we use lanterns meaning to unite and get together, and for the mid-autumn festival we use lanterns as well. So it happens to be all in line. Lijiang is the sister city of Whanganui, and in that city they have a lot of special culture and use a lot of lanterns for decorations too. Honouring the sister city is another reason why the council are 100 per cent behind event.
How has Whanganui changed since you've been here?
I was a student here back in 1991 to 1997, then went back to Malaysia which is where I come from. But I officially moved to Whanganui in 2002 and have lived here since. It has changed quite a bit. It's good, that's why I chose to come back here. In a way a city needs to be changed time to time and be progressive. It's good to see the vibrancy in the city, compared to the 1990s.
What's your favourite thing to do in Whanganui
To live here. I came from a big city and lived in Auckland for a short while and I don't like the traffic and everything. It's a waste of time. In Whanganui you can do the school run in the morning and do it at the end of the day at 3pm. You can even pop home for lunch if you would like to. In Auckland that's impossible.
What are some things you'd like to see change in Whanganui?
I know that we are officially granted the Unesco City [of Design] title, but unfortunately with UCOL changing a lot of courses like ceramic, glass, design and fashion design courses has been merged together because of commercial or financial reasons. So I'd love to see more creative and art courses or workshops start back up. The Unesco status is good, but to be really honest, compared to the 1990s, we had the glass studio, the ceramics, the design and fine arts were all very superb. And all the artists who lived here were top artists. I'd like to see somehow an organisation or institution come back and make that great again.
Tell me about your company Inc Creative
We do digital solutions. When I say that, I mean non-keyboard or mouse interfaces to communicate with a computer. You're using your motions, your body and gestures. We only have one client in Whanganui who is Suzuki New Zealand. The rest of our clients are either overseas or in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. But I chose to live in Whanganui because of the lifestyle.
What's a favourite project you've worked on with Inc Creative?
In 2011 we were approached by ANZ Bank to help them create a digital experience for the Rugby World Cup. That was the first time we got involved with events and we needed to learn how to run the event as a digital event. If I remember correctly we had over 600,000 people come through our digital exhibits during the eight and a half weeks during the Rugby World Cup. We created a rugby kick game. So basically a digital ball is being projected onto the wall, and you use your feet to kick it and the way you "kick" the ball determines where it goes. The aim is obviously to kick it through the goal. We put in the wind factor as well. We also created the dodge game where you have to dodge people that are tackling you. We also made an iPad app for ANZ during that time, and we ran the event too.
Where do you see the future of digital solutions going?
We were doing this sort of thing back in 2011 so it's been here, but the only constraint has always been budget. If it wasn't for budget we could seriously do a lot more. So in terms of where to go from here, the more budget our client has assigned to us, the more crazy and innovative things we can do. There's a lot more out there so I don't know where to start. There's a universe out there. In 2022, nothing has unlimited budget. If I catch up with Elon Musk, then maybe. If he becomes my client he might say I have no limitation for budget. But I don't think that's going to happen.
What's an event from the past you would love to have been part of?
World Expo Dubai. It's a place where you showcase technologies and capabilities. We have the capabilities but we just don't know people who are there. Obviously the World Expo has finished but the next World Expo I think is in Europe in 2030. Hopefully I'm not too old to be a part of that.