Lunar New Year welcomed

Blessing the new year . . . Young recruits at the Chinese New Year festival in Lawrence on Sunday perform the dragon dance outside the Joss House, a dance performed at New Year to scare away evil spirits. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN

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This year is the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, and festivities were held to welcome the New Year in Lawrence on Sunday.

Organised by a combined effort between the Lawrence Chinese Camp, Sun Gum Saan Ltd and the Otago Southland Chinese Association, the events to celebrate the incoming Year of the Rabbit attracted more than 250 people.

Lawrence Chinese Camp Charitable Trust chairwoman Denise Ng said after two years of hiatus because of asbestos in the building and Covid-19, the festival was a special one this year.

‘‘This year we welcome the new year with a special launch — we are welcoming the new curriculum of the history of Chinese settlement in Otago to children in the region,’’ Ms Ng said.

Lawrence was the birthplace of Chinese settlement in New Zealand so the organisers felt it would be ‘‘fitting’’ to introduce the launch in the town.

‘‘It’s very special to me, not just the launch but the entire celebration, as my father bought this land to preserve the rich history we have here,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s my duty and honour to continue the legacy that has been left here, and it is amazing that we get to bring communities like Lawrence, Tuapeka and friends further afield to celebrate with us.’’

The festival involved Chinese from as far as Auckland, Palmerston North and Dunedin, where professional pig roasters, line dancers and Chinese musicians performed.

Children’s activities including gold panning were available and authentic Chinese food was served.

Ms Ng said she was excited the day could finally go ahead.

‘‘We’ve been planning this for a while now, so hopefully we can continue to have these events without interruption.’’