On 12 February 2024, Hon Melissa Lee, Minister for Ethnic Communities, hosted the inaugural Lunar New Year event, emphasising inclusivity and diversity within the nation's cultural fabric. 

The event, attended by esteemed dignitaries, members of Parliament (MPs), diplomatic corps, and community leaders, marked a significant milestone in acknowledging the Lunar New Year's broader cultural significance.

Image: Rt Hon Christopher Luxon, Prime Minister standing at the podiumPrime Minister, Rt Hon Christopher Luxon, wished everyone a happy Year of the Dragon and underscored the vital contributions of ethnic communities to the nation.

“It’s entirely an appropriate time to say a big thank-you to all of you Asian communities for all the incredible work you do and what you have brought to New Zealand. 

New Zealand is a much better place socially, economically and culturally because we have a strong diverse Asian community.

Your stories are incredibly inspiring to us. And many of you arrived in New Zealand more recently. You left your homeland, family and culture and chose New Zealand for a better future for yourself and your families, and this is incredibly inspiring as well,” Mr Luxon says.

Mr Luxon also highlighted that the government is open for business and working to attract international investment.

Image: Hon Melissa Lee, Minister for Ethnic Communities at the podiumMinister Melissa Lee pointed out extending the traditional Chinese New Year celebration in Parliament to encompass the Lunar New Year, creating a platform for cross-cultural festivities.

"Our parliamentary events hold profound significance for participants, promoting a deep sense of belonging and solidarity within the broader society.

I’m thrilled that this year’s event is expanded to include the various communities celebrating the Lunar New Year. New Zealand is known for its incredible diversity. As a nation, it is important to acknowledge the traits we share and celebrate them.

Tonight’s event is a great example of how our similarities and diversity can bring us together. It is truly fascinating to see how different cultures can harmoniously connect, showing the beauty of shared elements that unite people," Ms Lee says.

Key speakers at the event included His Excellency Dr. Wang Xiaolong, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China, and Ms. Jenny Too, National President of the New Zealand Chinese Association. MPs Nancy Lu and Dr Carlos Cheung were the co-emcees of the event.

The event featured greetings in various languages, symbolising the multicultural tapestry of New Zealand, including a warm welcome in Korean by the Minister for Ethnic Communities [saehae bog manh-i bad-euseyo]. The Prime Minister extended greetings in Mandarin [Xin Chun Kuai Le] and Cantonese [Sun Cun Fay Luo], embracing the linguistic diversity of the occasion.

Image L to R: Mervin Singham - Chief Executive Ministry for Ethnic Communities, Hon Melissa Lee - Minister for Ethnic Communites, Rt Hon Christopher Luxon - Prime Minister, His Excellency Dr Wang Xiaolong - Ambassador of the People's Republic of China and Ms Jenny Too - National President of the New Zealand Chinese Association.Chief Executive for the Ministry for Ethnic Communities, Mervin Singham, expressed his pleasure that the Ministry's team supports organising the Parliamentary events.

"As New Zealand continues to embrace its diverse population, events like the Lunar New Year celebration serve as a testament to its commitment to inclusivity, cultural appreciation, and community cohesion. 

The government, through initiatives led by the Ministry for Ethnic Communities, reaffirms its dedication to supporting and uplifting ethnic communities across the country," Mervin says.

The event showcased the cultural richness of East and Far East Asian communities, featuring performances such as Chinese gu zheng solo by Athena (Ruo Yan) Zuo, Traditional Korean Fan Dance by Jina Yoon and Hannah Kim, and a Vietnamese traditional outfits fashion show with ao dai accompanied by bamboo flute music.

The Lunar New Year event in Parliament sets a precedent for future cross-cultural celebrations, reflecting New Zealand's values of diversity, respect, and unity in the spirit of the Year of the Dragon.

Check our social media channels for some highlight photos from the event: Facebook | LinkedIn. Please check out the full event’s album on our Facebook page.

Image: Performers at the Luna New Year eventImage LtoR: Lion Dancers with Mr Paul Chin and Ms Jenny Too - NZ Chinese Association, His Excellency Dr. Wang Xiaolong - Ambassador of the People's Republic of China, Prime Minister, Rt Hon Christopher Luxon, Minister for Ethnic Communities - Hon Melissa Lee, Dr Carlos Cheung MP and Nancy Liu MP Co-emcees and Chief Executive for the Ministry Mervin Singham.

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