Statement from Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED):
Following a discussion with representatives of the local Chinese community earlier today, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) has decided to cancel this year’s Auckland Lantern Festival.
ATEED General Manager – Destination, Steve Armitage said: “The decision to cancel this year’s Festival resulted from growing concerns within the community as to the timing of the event in relation to the evolving Novel Coronavirus situation. We fully respect the wishes of the Chinese community who have shared their culture and tradition with Aucklanders through the Lantern Festival for 21 years.”
While concerns regarding the virus have been a factor in arriving at today’s decision, it is important to stress that the current advice from the Ministry of Health is that there are no reported cases of the virus in New Zealand.
The planning for this year’s event, which originally started in 2000 under the stewardship of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, began last year and involves many stakeholders.
“We would like to thank our commercial partners, performers, volunteers, stallholders, local businesses and festival staff for their understanding,” Armitage added.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said: “The Lantern Festival is a popular and much-anticipated fixture on Auckland’s events calendar.”
“It’s sad that the festival won’t be going ahead this year, but it’s important to respect the wishes of Auckland’s Chinese community, many of whom don’t feel it is appropriate to celebrate the festival given the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China and its toll on life there. I look forward to the Lantern Festival returning to Auckland next year and its celebration of Chinese culture and Auckland’s multiculturism,” Mr Goff said.