30 January, 2017

Taranaki's Chinese community welcomes the Year of the Rooster with singing, dancing and feasting.

 

Ju Xian Zhou-Smith sang her heart out at the Chinese New Year celebrations in New Plymouth.
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Ju Xian Zhou-Smith sang her heart out at the Chinese New Year celebrations in New Plymouth.

In eight years Ju Xian Zhou-Smith has moved to New Zealand, learned to speak English, and learned to write it as well.

"When I first moved here I only knew 'no, no' and 'yes, yes'," she says.

"There was not a lot of talking," she says, laughing.

Taranaki president of the New Zealand Chinese association Betty Leung said the new year was always a big celebration.
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Taranaki president of the New Zealand Chinese association Betty Leung said the new year was always a big celebration.

To help with her English Ju Xian went to school twice a week.

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Her English improved quickly, but she continued to embrace her Chinese culture as well.

Hungry revelers were treated to a Chinese feast from Laughing Buddha.
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Hungry revelers were treated to a Chinese feast from Laughing Buddha.

Every morning she would get up and sing traditional Chinese songs around the house.

On Sunday she shared her beautiful voice with the 135 people who were welcoming the Year of the Rooster at the Chinese New Year celebrations in New Plymouth.

"I love to sing. It makes me happy," she said.

There were lots of cute kids celebrating the Chinese New Year in New Plymouth on Sunday, including Lucas Shen, 4, Angela ...
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

There were lots of cute kids celebrating the Chinese New Year in New Plymouth on Sunday, including Lucas Shen, 4, Angela Shen, 5, and Andy Shen, 3.

Her husband Murray Smith said he had spent a lot of time in China and he loved hearing his wife sing in Chinese, especially when it was a celebration.

"This is the biggest Chinese festival of the year," he said.

"The other big festival is the Moon Festival."

Madison Low, 5, grabs some food while Jenny Zhong assists her son Lucas Shen, 4.
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Madison Low, 5, grabs some food while Jenny Zhong assists her son Lucas Shen, 4.

Taranaki president of the New Zealand Chinese association Betty Leung said she had spent a month organising the celebrations.

To get the year off to a great start, the Taranaki event opened with an energetic and vibrant Lion Dance.

This was followed by a shared Chinese feast, catered by the restaurant Laughing Buddha.

Jason Wong was enjoying the Chinese New Year celebrations.
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Jason Wong was enjoying the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The smorgasbord was filled with Cantonese style roast pork, fried chicken, sweet and sour pork, ginger and spring onion lamb, fried rice, and chow mein noodles.

"And chips, for the kids," Leung said.

To make enough food, Laughing Buddha used 60 kilograms of roast pork, as well as 50 chickens.

Honor Zhao, 4 was smitten with the fluffy Chinese lion.
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Honor Zhao, 4 was smitten with the fluffy Chinese lion.

"Chinese people love eating. It is a tradition."

Honor Zhao, 4, patiently waited in line to get her lunch, but became distracted by the colourful and fluffy giant lion's head from the Lion Dance.

While her mum Mina Zhu collected her lunch Honor was busy patting the lion, brushing it's mane with her fingers and pulling the strings that made his eyes open and shut.

Zhu said the celebrations had been wonderful for young and old alike.

"And the Lion Dance was very, very impressive," she said.

"It's been a great day."

 - Stuff