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Wellington Lantern Festival to Go Ahead

Organisers of the Wellington Lantern Festival say that plans for the annual festival remain unchanged, pending official advice or information in the coming week regarding the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus.

The announcement follows news today that the Auckland Lantern Festival will cancel their four-day event that attracts nearly 200,000 people.

Currently no cases of the virus have been reported in New Zealand and at this time the Ministry of Health does not propose altering arrangements for public events.

The Wellington Lantern Festival, now in its sixth year, is due to be held on 14 and 15 February on the Wellington Waterfront, spanning the length from Odlins Plaza to Waitangi Park, and expected to attract around 50,000 people across two nights.

Festival director Lily Kao says the festival is a heavily local event featuring Wellington-based performers, and vendors from around New Zealand.

“The Wellington Lantern Festival has established itself as a uniquely Wellington celebration of the arts, food and theatre. There is a strong Wellington component throughout, including a lantern featuring the city’s founding legend - the story of the two taniwha Ngake and Whātaitai,” Kao says.

The festival will also include a two-storey high lantern of a Māori warrior and princess performing a hongi as its centrepiece.

Kao says that the team is monitoring the situation daily as the global crisis evolves, and is keeping in close contact with performers, stall holders and other parties involved. Her team is ensuring best-practice health and hygiene information from the Ministry and items like hand sanitizers will be readily available onsite during the Festival.

“We will continue to review the situation as we get closer to the date. We are working with the Wellington City Council and adhering to Ministry of Health guidelines.”

The Ministry of Health website advises: “At this stage the Ministry does not propose altering arrangements for public events.”

Kao adds that it is important for all New Zealanders to be sensitive to the global context in which the virus is unfolding: “This time of year is usually a time of celebration for twenty percent of the world - but this year, many people around the world are very worried and cannot be with loved ones. We hope the festival will be a way to bring people together and promote tolerance.”


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