Year of Rat to be marked


The Lawrence Chinese Camp will be the place to be on Saturday, as we start the Year of the Rat, organisers say.

Activities will include puppet-making, kite-making, gold-panning, games and more.

“We’ll also have displays set up for the adults to read about the history of the camp and its people,” Lawrence Chinese Camp Trust member Rachel Gemmill said.

“Some of our Chinese locals will be along to read traditional Chinese stories and make lanterns.”

Last year was Year of the Pig, and a traditional oven was used to cook pork for hungry festival-goers.

“The oven was the original one that was at the camp,” Mrs Gemmill said.

Those worried this year’s animal theme might carry over can rest assured there will still be pork on the menu.

“We’ll also be teaching the kids how to make mooncakes,” she said.

Chinese dancers from Dunedin will put on a display for the crowd, and prominent members of the Chinese community will be on hand.

“Jim Ng will be there. He was one of the founding members of the trust,” Gemmill said.

Former Dunedin mayor Peter Chin would also attend, along with Clutha mayor Bryan Cadogan.

Mrs Gemmill said while the Chinese New Year was important to all Chinese people, there was special significance to the event in Lawrence.

“The Chinese settlers were quite separated from the Europeans when they arrived, even though the Europeans came to the camp a lot.

“They held on to their traditions and this [Chinese New Year] was one of the most important,” she said.