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Ancient proverb "if people are of one heart, even the earth can become gold" was one of the key messages of unity delivered at the 10th anniversary of Dunedin’s Chinese Garden, Lau Yuan.
The event, attended by a delegation from Shanghai, was marked by dancing, speeches and the opening of a special exhibition of photographs from the garden’s sister garden in China, Yu Yuan.
Speeches were delivered by Yu Yuan deputy director Madame Liu Qun, Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust chairman Malcolm Wong, Chinese Consul-general Wang Zhijian, and Dunedin’s deputy mayor Chris Staynes. Speaking after the ceremony yesterday evening, Madame Liu said she thought the photographs presented "the essence of the garden" and it was an opportunity for Dunedin people to get a glimpse of Yu Yuan, built in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty.
Hundreds of people attended the event including Dunedin City councillors, and former mayor Peter Chin who also addressed the crowd. Madame Liu presented Mr Staynes with two painstakingly made lacquerware Chinese vases, and he presented her with a print of a painting given to the Dunedin City Council. A waiata composed for the occasion was performed by the Dunedin City Council waiata group. As well as honouring mana whenua, Mr Wong donned a kilt for the occasion in recognition of Dunedin’s Scottish heritage.
Mr Wang, who is based in Christchurch, said this was his third visit to the gardens, and it was like visiting a "typical, well-designed" garden in Southern China. It preserved Dunedin’s connection with China, which dated back to the gold-rush era when Chinese miners set out to start new lives in a remote land. Mr Staynes said that like any big sister, Yu Yuan looked after its little sister — and the garden provided not only photographs for the exhibition but 500 lanterns for the occasion.
Before the official ribbon cutting of the exhibition, Madame Liu and Dunedin Public Art Gallery director Cam McCracken cut an elaborate cake designed for the occasion by Dunedin resident Tessa Willams. Musicians and dancers entertained the crowd, including young performers from the Otago Southland Chinese Association Lion Dance Troupe.