Big crowd welcomes Chinese New Year

Malaysian Chinese Fei Enghuei and Esther Saw, in New Zealand on a working holiday, did not expect to see their culture's New Year celebrated so far from home.

The couple travelled from Alexandra, where they work as fruit packers, to see in the Year of the Snake in Dunedin last night.

Hundreds attended the celebrations at the Dunedin Chinese Garden on a balmy night, which was very different from the inclement conditions that forced the cancellation of the dragon parade from the Octagon last year.

A fireworks display brings to a close Chinese New Year festivities in Dunedin last night. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A fireworks display brings to a close Chinese New Year festivities in Dunedin last night. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The evening concluded with fireworks, just after 10pm. Mr Enghuei said he had not expected to see celebrations on such a scale so far from home, and he was pleased to see a range of Asian cultures represented in the entertainment.

The snake portended prosperity, he said.

An elderly visitor to Dunedin, Colin Brain, of Queensland's Sunshine Coast, Australia, said it often surprised people to hear he was of Chinese descent.

He was one-eighth Chinese, he said, and marking the festival was important to him.

He was pleased he could tie it in with a 12-day visit to Dunedin. Dunedin couple Craig and Fiona White were attending the festival for the first time, because their 21-year-old son was part of a Japanese drumming group providing entertainment.

Mr White said they had not realised previously how multicultural the event's entertainment was, which showed Dunedin was more culturally diverse than many people realised.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the year of the snake represented intelligence, gracefulness, and cunning. But the event was about more than the meaning of the year, he said, with a focus on reuniting with family and having fun.

-eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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