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Schools to be treated to array of Chinese performances

Schools to be treated to array of Chinese performances in Year of the Rooster

Chinese performers in New Zealand for the Lantern Festivals will also visit schools in Auckland, Whangarei and Canterbury next week [13-16 March] as part of an Asia New Zealand Foundation education roadshow.

Mongolian musicians Nair Ensemble will perform with traditional folk instruments, while martial arts performers from Shanghai Shangwu Group will entertain with their kung fu sleeves act and other shows. They will be joined by on stage by a freestyle tea pourer Zhou Chun, who pours tea from brass pots with one-metre long spouts, a skill that evolved into a distinct martial art, gong fu cha (“cha” meaning tea).

Students will also have the opportunity to interact with a trio of artists from Shanghai: dough figurine sculptor Qiu Baoyou, who creates figurines of legendary Chinese heroes; toffee artist Huang Hongmei, who creates intricate two-dimensional paintings from caramelised sugar or toffee; and traditional decorative knot artist Zhou Lingling.

The performers will visit Henderson Intermediate School and Pomaria School on Monday 13 February and perform to a cluster of Whangarei schools at Onerahi School on Tuesday 14 February. They will then travel to the South Island and perform at Ashburton College and Mt Hutt College on Thursday 16 February.

Asia New Zealand Foundation Educators Network Manager Sean O’Connor says the school visits are a long-running component of the Foundation's Lantern Festival programme. “We try to get the performers to new regions and new schools each year. This year we’re delighted to be taking them to Ashburton and Methven for the first time.

“These school visits give hundreds of New Zealand children a taste of the breadth of Chinese culture and learn about the traditions of the Lunar New Year. They’ll get the chance to see the performers up close and even try out some of their skills. These visits help spark interest in Chinese culture and support the students’ other learning about China.”

Mr O’Connor says the Whangarei schools belong to a cluster who have received funding to introduce Mandarin Chinese programmes to their schools this year through the New Zealand Government’s Asian Language Learning in Schools (ALLiS) programme. Teachers at other schools have participated in the Foundation’s professional development tours to Asia and have introduced a range of initiatives in their schools to help students understand more about the region.

The Lantern Festival schools roadshow is part of the wider work the Asia New Zealand Foundation does to help build Asia-equipped schools in New Zealand.

Nair Ensemble perform traditional Mongolian folk music, including throat singing. They use traditional Mongolian instruments, including the morin khuur – a horse head fiddle that produces a sound like the neighing of wild horses.
Shanghai Shangwu Group is a martial arts performance group that has travelled the world and performed at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games. They will perform a water pipe dance, a kung fu sleeve dance, and a bubble magic show for kids.

The groups will also perform at the Auckland Lantern Festival on Friday February 10 to Sunday February 12 and at the Christchurch Lantern Festival on Saturday February 18 and Sunday February 19. The Foundation has been involved in Auckland’s Lantern Festival since the inaugural festival in 2000 and added the Christchurch Lantern Festival in 2005.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation dedicated to building New Zealand’s links with Asia through a range of programmes, including business, culture, education, media, research and a Leadership Network.

Lunar New Year and Chinese Lantern Festival background:

This year, the Lunar New Year, celebrated in China and other Asian countries, began on January 28. 2017 is the Year of the Fire Rooster.

People born in the lunar years of 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and 2017 are considered roosters in the Chinese zodiac, which has 12 animals. They are said to be confident, intelligent, hard-working, resourceful and courageous.

The Fantern Festival has been part of Chinese New Year celebrations since the Han Dynasty (206 BC–221 AD). The festival is usually held on the 15th day of the lunar New Year and marks the end of New Year celebrations.


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