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Grupo Hispano Otago president Catherine Barriga said El Dia de los Muertos - the Day of the Dead - was an annual celebration in many Latin American countries.
About 60 members of the group honoured dead friends and family members by building and decorating an alter at St Francis Xavier School.
The alter was adorned with paper flowers, photos of the dead and their favourite food and drink, including a bottle of tequila and pan de muerto - the bread of the dead, she said.
Many families in Latin America would decorate graves with flowers and gifts before picnicking at the grave site to dine with the dead, she said.
The day was a way to retain their cultures after the introduction of Spanish Catholicism, she said.
Member Carolina Gomez said this was the inaugural celebration by the group and was a way to keep the language and culture of Latin America alive in Dunedin.