At the 2015 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards.
Fulton Hogan EXCELLENCE Award for Community Impact
Highly Commended: Auckland Council – Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) – in association with Asia New Zealand Foundation – Auckland Lantern Festival
Auckland Council’s funded body Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) launched Auckland’s Lantern Festival in 2000 to increase awareness and understanding of the growing Chinese community and its culture in Auckland.
Run by ATEED, in association with the Asia New Zealand Foundation, it has gone from strength to strength.
It is now one of the most enduring cultural festivals in the country, attracting 182,000 people this year. Initially the core audience was made up of local Chinese people but non-Asian visitors now comprise 60 percent of those attending.
Judges praised the way the festival has grown in popularity and successfully helped raise awareness of different cultures in Auckland, encouraging “community inclusion and cohesion with changing demographics”.
ATEED has a strong partnership with the Asia New Zealand Foundation, with funding coming from both partners as well as sponsorship contributions. Techniques used in planning the festival include basic event project management as well as specialist expertise – including interpersonal skills for developing relationships, artistic and design skills for programming and decorations, strategic skills for stakeholder management and cultural knowledge both for Chinese heritage and the local social scene.
As the event grows, ever more intensive planning is required as are extensive partnerships and relationships with sponsors, community organisations and performers.
Significant planning goes into ensuring the event is fresh and different each year, with contemporary elements introduced alongside the traditional cultural roots of the festival. Recent performances have included Tang Dynasty, China’s first heavy metal band, and Long Chen Deo, a reggae band from Beijing, attracting a younger audience to the festival.
LGNZ president Lawrence Yule said, “The festival celebrates the Chinese community’s significant contribution to the liveability and growth of the economy in Auckland and New Zealand. It has contributed significantly to greater understanding of Chinese culture while becoming an unmissable event for many Auckland residents and visitors.”
This article was first published in the August 2015 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.